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

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: Another example of a site I find highly readable but has the exact reverse combination is this one:

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.

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.

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 :lol:

Yes, me too. Pure white or pure black is sexy, but also mighty inconvenient. :slight_smile:

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.