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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru team1504's Avatar
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    Question colour theory / typography: What's better Black text or White text?

    Hi guys,
    I was wondering based on colour theory, readability, and typography standards is it okay or acceptable to have white text on a darker background, which is then on a black background?

    I always thought it was preferred or better to have black / colour text on a white / light background? Thats why this input box I am typing in now has a white bg and black text by default, right?

    What are you guys' thoughts and reasonings?

    +Team 1504

  2. #2
    Mazel tov! bronze trophy kohoutek's Avatar
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    For thorough reading, I much prefer to have dark text on a light background. However, I can also easily read light colored text on a dark background. The following is an example of a site I find highly readable color wise: http://daringfireball.net/. Another example of a site I find highly readable but has the exact reverse combination is this one: http://www.456bereastreet.com/

    Both sites do not use black and white, but slightly lighter shades. I prefer lighter shadings because my eyes are sensitive to light, ergo a hard black/white or white/black approach makes my eyes sore and strained in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, many "purists" who claim that anything that isn't #000 or #fff is mere design idiocy do not account for people like me who suffer from light sensitivity.

    With that said, I've not found a single source that has some hard facts regarding the matter without counter articles stating the opposite. There's been a thread here on SP some time ago where a couple of people with a form of dyslexia said they preferred light text on dark backgrounds, though far more people who have a case of dyslexia have claimed the exact opposite. An absolute answer to that question seems to be non-existent. The only conclusion I draw is that high contrast is mandatory regardless of the approach you use in the decision-making process.
    Maleika E. A. | Rockatee | Twitter | Dribbble



  3. #3
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    Typography is an integral part of design. Think of all the different uses of typography on the web, from large headlines and bold blocks of text to smaller-sized text in body copy, and you’ll soon realize that not only is it a crucial part of a web design, but that it’s a pure combination of art and science. But in a dark background i think light colors are better.
    Last edited by molona; Sep 21, 2011 at 01:10. Reason: faux signature

  4. #4
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    molona's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kohoutek View Post
    Both sites do not use black and white, but slightly lighter shades. I prefer lighter shadings because my eyes are sensitive to light, ergo a hard black/white or white/black approach makes my eyes sore and strained in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, many "purists" who claim that anything that isn't #000 or #fff is mere design idiocy do not account for people like me who suffer from light sensitivity.
    Off Topic:

    I also suffer from light sensitivity and although I love the cleanness of white, I love it much more when I can read the text without my eyes crying all the time

  5. #5
    Mazel tov! bronze trophy kohoutek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by molona View Post
    Off Topic:

    I also suffer from light sensitivity and although I love the cleanness of white, I love it much more when I can read the text without my eyes crying all the time
    Yes, me too. Pure white or pure black is sexy, but also mighty inconvenient.
    Maleika E. A. | Rockatee | Twitter | Dribbble



  6. #6
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    I think the OP is oversimplifying his /her objective.

    Aim for OPTIMAL contrast. You can achieve that either way ( going dart/on light OR light on dark) but remember that what you are going is for a differential not just simply black/white ( or one color and it's compliment, etc). Tho I too have heard that some folks preferred dark bg with light type.. I have found that this assumption came from the early CRT monitors in the 80s and 90s who could only render less than 300 levels of contrast.

    Another thing to consider i s that contrast has meaning. In print I sometimes use the same weight text, but with diminished contrast to convey content that is subordinate to to content with higher contrast.


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