iWork 08: Pages: Type Size Too Small On Screen


I use Pages in iWork'08 and find that 12 point type is too small to be seen easily on my monitor. Is there a way to change it? Must I always initially bring up 12 point type, and then change it to 16 or some such, just for that specific letter? Is there a way to have it always come up with 16 point?


iWork and Pages and Mac OS? X (iWork '08, Pages 3.0.1 and OS X Leopard 10.5.1 or newer recommended)


Those are all good questions and the short answer to those three questions are 'yes' , 'no', and 'yes' Smile What's important to take into consideration is do we want to change the true font size or just make things easier to read on screen. Let's address a bit of background on those two basic issues first, then we'll address the specifics of what to do in Pages.

Display Resolution
In this condition, we'll presume the 12 point font size is fine when printed, but it looks too small on screen.

Because different monitors display a different number of pixels (display resolution) the size objects appear on screen can vary per monitor (what looks too small to you might look fine for me). For example fonts and icons displayed on a monitor with a high screen resolution (lots of pixels such as 1440 x 900 pixels) will make things look smaller than a monitor with lower screen resolution (fewer pixels such as 800x600 pixels). When we change the display resolution by changing the number of pixels the display uses or by zooming in or out in a document window, we make things easier to see without changing the font size specified in the document.

Let's say that another way because it is a very important distinction when compared to actually changing font sizes described later. To use an example, if a 12 point font is used when entering text, and that font size is okay when printed but just looks too small on screen, we would want to change the display by zooming in to make it appear larger and therefore easier to read. Why? Because when we type using fonts of a specific size (e.g. 12 point) or document layout is related to that font size. For example page breaks, and how text looks when flowed around a graphic or how many characters fit in the cell of a table are relative to the chosen font size. If we change the font size to 16 point to make it easier to read on screen -- our document will have page breaks (and other layout content) relative to that font size. If we decide to change the font at print time to 12 point our document will reflow; changing the entire layout of our document. This could be a disaster and cost us a lot of time so we never want to change the physical font size (e.g. from 12 to 16 point) just to make a document easier to read on screen - never.

Different Physical Font Size
In the condition described above, the problem was a 12 point was fine when printed, but just looked too small on screen to be easy to read. Now let's look at the other condition: I always want to use 16 point fonts (or some other preferred size) in my Pages document because it's what I want printed. The problem is every time I start a new Pages document I have to change the font size from 12 to 16 point.

Here's a case where we want to save time and make or life easier by setting up a master document to use as a template. Then, every time we start a new document our preferred font size is all set and ready to go. Fortunately most modern applications allow you to create custom templates -- and that includes Pages Smile Our custom template can be as simple as an empty document with nothing more than the page size, margins, tabs, indents and font type and size. Howerver, the custom template could include all that along with any standard graphics for letterhead, logos, or even our signature. The choice is up to us.

What To Do

We've covered the background of the two most common conditions earlier, now let's examine how we address both of those issues in Pages. If you need additional information on the following methods, or to learn about additional options and methods, do this:

  1. Open any Pages document
  2. Choose Help menu → Pages Help
  3. Search for Zoom and CustomTemplates

Method One: Change the Displayed Zoom Percentage
The bottom left corner of every Pages document has a small zoom setting popup menu. Click on the zoom popup to choose a new zoom ratio. By default the value is set to 125%, try using a value of 150% or more. Changing the zoom percentage will not modify the actual font size (e.g. 12 point is still 12 point) so your document will not reflow. It will simply make things easier to read on screen.

Compare the two screen shots here. Note the zoom percentage has been changed (bottom left corner) and as a result the rulers look different and the font size appears larger and easier to read but the true font size attribute is still 9 point as noted in the Font Panel window.

Method Two: Create a Custom Template
Custom Templates are a super way to save time and can contain any sort of physical content (e.g. a logo) or any sort of setting (font size, font type, page setup, etc..). In this example we will simply setup a new Custom Template based on the standard Blank Pages Template and change the font size. However, you could start with any of the standard Pages Templates and customize them to create your own unique look and feel. Experiment!

  1. Open Pages. If you are not prompted to choose a template, choose File? menu → New From Template Chooser...
  2. Double Click the Blank Template to open it.
  3. In the Toolbar at the top of the Document Window click on the Font Size popup menu (it displays 12 as a default) and choose 14 point (or any preferred font size)
    • Note: To set a font size that is not shown in the list, use the Font Panel to set the preferred size
  4. Choose File menu → Save As Template.... A standard Save As dialog opens
  5. Type a name for your Custom Template and click Save
    • Do Not change the location the file is saved to. While it's possible to specify a different location, the default location for templates is User/Library/Application Support/iWork/Pages/Templates/My Templates and we recommend keeping it that way
  6. The Custom Template file has been saved and may be used as a new document

To use your new custom template simply choose File menu > New and select it from the My Templates section. If you have setup Preferences in Pages to not always display the Template Chooser then choose File menu → New From Template Chooser... to select your Template. Now, every time you open your custom template the default font size will be 14 point. Had we made additional changes such as font type, different tabs, margins, indents, or added a graphic, those items would also appear.

Some Related Things
Just for completeness we'll mention there are few other ways to make things look larger without actually changing the font size, and without having to change the zoom percentage in Pages. If you change the display resolution of your monitor (choose Apple menu → System Preferences → Displays) to something lower than it is now, everything will look bigger. Not the prettiest solution but it might be worth experimenting with if you're not familiar with the concept of display resolution. The other choice is to enable system level zooming by choosing Apple menu > System Preferences > Universal Access > Seeing > Zoom On; pressing the specified key sequence will let you zoom and out on the fly. This method can be a bit disorienting but can be fun to play with (we use it a lot when doing product demo's and training to focus the audiences attention).

We hope that helps

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