I realize this sounds like a very subjective question, so I will try to ask it very carefully:

I'm learning to speak, read, and write Mandarin. A lot of times (particularly on the web or in e-mail) I read or write text that has English and simplified Mandarin characters intertwined. It seems to me that the font size that is comfortable for reading English is too small for reading Mandarin. I'm not sure if this is because I'm still learning, but it seems to me that Mandarin characters have far more complexity than English characters. I end up jacking up the font size so that I can visually resolve the detail in the Chinese characters.

My question is: in the US, a "default" font size in many cases is 11pt or 12pt. (E.g., if you start up Word, it's "body" style is around 11pt or 12pt.) Do Chinese readers use the same font sizes by default? If I start a Chinese version of Word, will the characters be in the 11-12pt range?

  • I've wondered this myself too. I also need characters to be displayed quite large (~14pt) so I can make out the detail. – Cocowalla May 16 '12 at 13:14
  • Good question, I guess the distance from the monitor may also play a role. – Timo Huovinen Oct 17 '13 at 18:06
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The default font size in MS Word(or other soft) is 12pt, and that's quite ok to be read.

If you want to make it easier, 14pt is quite acceptable.

It is very likely because you are still learning.

When I started learning I had the same experience. At a regular font size, some characters that were different looked indistinguishable. As you become more familiar with the characters, you will find that you are comfortable reading them at smaller font sizes.

My suggestion is to use whatever size feels most comfortable to you. As you become more familiar with the words, the larger font sizes will probably begin to feel too large.

IMHO if you use fonts at the same size people use them in China, you'll strain your eyes a lot (urban legend has it that the tiny characters are the main reason so many studious Chinese and Japanese sport glasses, but IMMV).

I've checked my browser settings - 16pt. When I want to learn a character/word, e.g. in Anki etc - it's 24pt++

If your question is purely about Chinese versions of Word - it's 12pt.

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