Print size on product labelling

I wear glasses for reading but they are not very strong. What I have become increasingly annoyed about is the size of print on labels, especially medicines. For example, Hedaphen which is an ibuprofen pain killer. The labelling on the box is fine but when the actual product comes out in its little tray the print size is small and because it is printed on foil which has a pattern I can’t possibly read it. With glasses on I need to concentrate to find the name of the product. They seem more concerned to tell you, “Do not use if foil is broken” rather than telling you what the drug is. I have often found when traveling that I may have several little trays of panadeine or other medicines with exactly the same problem. It doesn’t have to be that way. When I look at Panadol the tablets are foil wrapped and I can read the name of the drug easily. I checked a few different foil packs and found that there are some that go for the small print, which I believe is dangerous and some that go for the safer larger print.

The same applies to labels on bottles. Sometimes the safety instructions and warnings appear in tiny print. Some bottles I checked I had to actually wear magnifying glasses to read all the text. There needs to be a minimum font size for labelling of all products that may be unsafe such as medicines, poisons and other products that may be dangerous when the instructions can’t be followed because they can’t be read.


I have similar problems with colours. i.e. tiny white or pale writing on say a yellow or light blue background. I get annoyed having to carry a packet over to a very bright light to be able to read cooking instructions.


This is all part of a combination of Australia’s “Nanny State” regulations combined with the ignorance of young marketer/graphic designers who don’t understand the eyesight limitations of anyone over (Ghast!) 30…

I have been away from Australia for 9 years and I am so over the changes that occurred while I was away! I am setting up a blogsite called “Grumpy Old Man Australia” , stay tuned…!


I will definitely see what you would have to say. This is a issue that truly annoying. Small print…I lwonder at times if minute wirtings is intentional. So, you give up and just buy the item.


Yes, I should have mentioned not only print size but also the colour combinations and not only on product labellings. Have you noticed that computer text is often harder to read because of the use of poor colour combinations and very pale greys. There used to be black, white and mid grey and they were easy to pick. Now we have black, white and about 5 shades of grey which make it difficult to determine what the shades of grey mean.


I totally agree, If I’m at home, I can use a magnifying glass, but not at the shops, I often have to ask the shop assistant to tell me, for example, if there is lavendar in a shampoo I want to buy as I it makes me itchy and the print is so small I can’t read it even with my glasses


I know I’ve left a couple of products on the shelf due to a white print on an orange background.


I’ll be your first subscriber.


Thank you. I am sure you will enjoy my rantings. I have more than 30 topics already noted!

Please have patience though as I am very busy and it might not appear for a few weeks. I will let readers know on this site when my blog goes live and invite comments.


Products found in chemists and supermarkets seem to be the worst offenders. The current crop of graphic designers and their masters don’t seem to bother testing their designs on real people before they release them. I find that, even with my glasses on, the labelling is illegible on a huge range of products, even for the primary fonts. I can never tell whether it’s shampoo, conditioner I’m looking at. Talk about frustrating.


Phil you hit the nail on the head with shampoo and conditioner. Where would you NOT wear glasses? In the shower, of course. Usually you can read the brand but not whether it is shampoo or conditioner without glasses. How ridiculous!


I couldn’t agree more especially if you have dietary restrictions like gluten and fructose. For your information fructose means that honey, Apple, pear, onions and a lot of other vegetables are off the list. The for mentioned vegetables and fruits are ubiquitous and hide in all sorts of products that they have no right being in. Even gluten free breakfast cereal, (and don’t get me started on the difference between package size and contents) have apple juice, honey etc as sweeteners.


Not just products. I have contacted Choice several times over the years regarding their pretty layout colours which make reading the information contained almost impossible.

I used to work in the wine industry and by law all print had to be of a minimum size depending on what information was displayed. This does not appear to be the same for other industries. Wines exported to other countries were often required to submit samples of labels for approval.
Wine labels fall under the label integrity system (LIP) which also covers the accuracy of wine naming. e.g. cabernet sauvignon. The wine has to be 85% or more of the variety and vintage.
Inspectors can turn up at any time and ask for proof


I think that giving up and finding another product would be a wiser option.


Can you please explain what you mean by ‘nanny state regulations’?

I couldn’t agree more. I have to take my 12 year old daughter to the store with me to check ingredients because I can’t eat garlic and onions and often forget my reading glasses. I’ve pretty much given up and just taken a an antihistamine before I eat anything that could potentially have onion or garlic (including powder) and hope for the best. Luckily I don’t swell up or anything. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for celiacs. Medications I just have to leave in their packets so I know what they are.

I agree totally. Also, when I change channels on the television it displays the channel momentarily in small white print on a light blue ground. Impossible to read without getting up close and squinting.

I am Coeliac (gluten allergic) and must read labels on anything I consume.

I wear tri-focals and it is getting harder and harder to read the fine print, but I get most annoyed at tiny printing that is pale on a pale background. Surely it is done purposefully? I can’t believe modern products with all the work and money that goes into marketing aren’t aware that their labeling is hard to read?

Why would they do that?


What about crosswords in newspapers, if some get any smaller i will need to enlarge them on my printer and I still have 20/20 vision.

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