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But then, the National Cancer Institute probably isn't looking to lure everyone into shelling out $$$ for their important "reports" are they? ;)
all the font size advice assumes point sizes must be specified and they seem to be under the assumption that you have to build a site to specific screen resolutions...which is one of the most ludicrous web design myths of all
everything else I looked through seemed excellent
Tullis, T.S., Boynton, J.L. and Hersh, H. (1995), Readability of fonts in the windows environment, Proceedings of CHI'95, 127-128.
I don't think they used points because they were thinking traditional print design-- it's just that they wouldn't be able to do a readability study without controlling size as a repeatable constant.
The problem I have with this section is that the size examples are dependent on display resolution, so they're really not useful.
in both cases the studies might be accurate, but the parameters they have set are so far removed from the actual practicalities of the web that they are entirely useless and potentially very misleading
loads of dee-ziners will use this page to back up claims that they MUST design pages that are exactly 800x600 and full of 10pt text
I suppose you're right in that the font size guideline could be pretty misleading. Not quite useless, but difficult to apply at least. What it really seems to be saying is, "don't use a font size that's too small to read" and offers up a reference size that some study found was on the threshold of readability.