Downsized Small White Pages Type May Put Eyes to Test

By Fred W. Lindecke Of the Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 13, 1996 | Go to article overview

Downsized Small White Pages Type May Put Eyes to Test


Fred W. Lindecke Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The new St. Louis phone book has got a lot of people squinting, but Southwestern Bell says it is worth it for three reasons:

To save money.

To save trees.

To avoid having to give St. Louisans two white page phone books, instead of one.

The body type of the new white pages books was dropped to 6 points, from 7. The type you are reading right now is 9.5 point.

Bob Thomas, director of directories for Southwestern Bell, said that based on what happened in other major cities when the change was made, the phone company knew it would get complaints about making the book harder to read. But three weeks after distribution started, he said only 30 complaints had been received on 1.3 million books.

If people have trouble reading the smaller type, they can get a form filled out by their optometrist, and Southwestern Bell will give them free directory assistance. About 11,000 customers in Missouri already get the free service.

Before the decision to use smaller type was made, Dr. Tom Porter of the Anheuser-Busch Eye Institute tested the smaller type on 40 people, ages 12 to 79, with "relatively normal vision."

They all preferred the larger type, Porter reported. He said as type size decreased, the time required to look up a number increased. But as age increased, the length of time and inaccuracy in finding numbers increased, regardless of type size. …

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