Text: Light on Dark or Dark on Light?

Just want some opinions on what people like to see. I have seen a few post at random about this issue, but not a thread dedicated to it. I am new to Online fiction and personally, like the light on dark themes better. Just because that is what I like does not mean it is what the majority likes. So opinions? what have you done? What is easier on the eyes?

In terms of physical eye strain, light text on a dark background has less glare.

However, many people prefer dark text on a light background because it's what they're used to seeing on paper and in word processing programs.

I would personally have two themes and allow the reader to choose.

I wonder if it's an age thing. Back when I was a young man I preferred reading light text on a dark background, now I find if I do that too long it gives me a headache. I prefer dark text on a light background these days...

I have tried to keep the text slightly grey on my web page so that it is not super bright in contrast. I am not sure it helps, I think it still looks pretty much white on the screen. It makes sense that as we get older it may get harder for the eyes. Thank You for the thoughts so far. I would love to get many more thoughts on this topic.

I'm strongly in favour of dark on light (also relatively old, lol). Just can't do the white on black - made an exception for Worm but it's a huge credit to Wildbow that the story was so gripping i was able to ignore the format.

I tend to prefer dark on light for the reason stated above--it looks more book-like. And what you just said about grey is exactly what I was going to say next. If you keep the value contrast from being white/black in either direction and instead use a light grey/dark grey (or some low saturation color version of the greys), that's going to help immensely.

I liked Tales of Mu's beige background.

Personally, as someone who's worked on websites for a living, I tend to go with black text on a white background. My understanding, having read the odd article on web usability is that it's the easiest for most people to read--with some caveats. The important thing is that there's contrast. Dark text on beige will work well. Light text on a black background will still be better than a low contrast combination.

Pink on a blue background is terrible, for example.

Thank's Jim, and pink on blue would be horribly unpleasant.The Consensus seems to be that dark on light is the preference. I think I will Go ahead and change to dark on light,before I have so much content that it would take days to change. This forum is great, I have learned so much and made a lot of changes due to excellent input from everyone. Thank You all!

Just to clarify my earlier post, because if you read it just the right way I sound like an idiot--I don't suggest using a super low contrast between background and text. But for me personally, 100% black and 100% white in either background or text hurts my eyes. Then again, I am in the "older eyes" category, and my glasses are likely due for a prescription upgrade. Even a 90-95% gray will still look black and a 10-20% gray will look white, but having one or the other or both instead of black and white seems to be easier on my eyes. And by gray, I mean any low saturation color that approaches gray (like beige). Although, as Jim pointed out, even at a low saturation some color combinations will be painful. ;)

The short version: I glanced at your front page, J.E., and your current theme is easy on my eyes. It has my vote for good readability.

Black on non-white 'light' background.

Hello! I haven't posted anything on the forums for a while, but had to comment when i saw this, because it's been something that i really thought a lot about. From what i understand from a study that i read, white text on a dark background is actually easier on the eyes, and especially in a dark room. A reader of mine commented negatively on my own change from dark background to light because he liked to read in bed on this phone before going to sleep. But ultimately i changed, for two reasons. Firstly, because i felt as if the light background suited the tone of my story more. I thinkg the site itself really adds to expectations, like a book cover would. When i get onto worms page, for example, i kinda expected to read something a bit dark and gloomy. Secondly,because whenever i checked my story at the office, a dark background really constrasts with my actual work stuff. It was pretty obvious to see that i wasn't doing work related research. :) a white background site blends in much better with excel and word documents.

Ha! I'm thinking making site design choices based on how well it camouflages at work is a solid decision. Love that.

Also, the point about matching the tone of the story is a good one. I remember when I started reading Outliers that I thought the white on black would make my eyes bug out, but I also thought how perfectly the site's look matches the story. And it certainly didn't stop me from binge reading his entire archive in a single afternoon.

And absolutely, making sure it matches the story pays off in building atmosphere. Anything you can do to help your readers immerse is a thing you want to at least try.

As a reader, I like light backgrounds and black text, but I hate, hate, hate overly bright white backgrounds. It's very tiring on the eye. As a writer, I made my serial's background kinda on the orange side of things, just to breathe some warmth into everything and remind people that it's an upbeat story (in case the whole 'dudes dying' has them thinking otherwise).

Light text on a dark background, but since I have readers who prefer dark text on a light background... I made both available on my site.

Personally, I can't read for long (on a monitor/phone/tablet) if the background is light and the text is dark. Eye strain issues and whatnot - my vision is terrible. With a primarily dark page, however, I can read for hours just fine.

Best answer: offer both! If you can. Maybe do a little A/B testing, then get back to us on what you found out. Unless, @Bonnie, have you noticed your readers picking one over the other? Do you track that?

A friend of mine makes web pages user-friendly for a living, and this is what he said for readability.

"Dark grey or black text on a white background. Set font size to about 16-18px with a font like Georgia or similar."

I have changed this on my web page, it feels a little large on the text, but I actually like it for reading. It looks really good on a phone and tablet I think. I am not sure my text is in that size range as I can't adjust it that way from wordpress, but it is close I think.

Ooh. Hixon. Your site's landing page has such an otherworldly font. :D I feel like I know what the serial's mood is before I even read a post.

Thanks Tantra, though I feel like it doesn't really fit my story. I just haven't been able to get a good image that I want to use yet...So there it sits just giving false hope. Maybe It does kinda fit, not sure just not happy with it though. I would love to get some good art one for the banner, but again time and money are not my friends on this one. :)

@Tartra - As far as I know I can't track it.

I did run a poll on RRL when I was still setting up my website. The results were;

81.54% prefer light text on a dark background.

3.08% prefer dark text on a light background.

15.38% said that they didn't mind either way as long as there wasn't too much contrast in the overall page.

I tried to strike a balance on both my themes and keep the number of contrasting elements to a minimum. Apparently, not only does too much contrast cause eyestrain but it can also distract some readers too much from the actual content as well.