Why we writers should see things in black on white.

Why we writers should see things in black on white.
March 25, 2014 Christina McKenna

I was lying awake last night, thinking of the plot of my forthcoming novel, THE SPINSTER WIFE. I’m some ways along the way. Well, about a quarter of the way through, if truth be told.

For no good reason, I saw—in my sleepless mind’s eye—the pages of an open book. Just a book. Nothing special. Could have been any book published at any time since printing was invented all those centuries ago.

But here’s the thing. Take a look at these three images. That’s the same text: taken from the opening page of my memoir, MY MOTHER WORE A YELLOW DRESS.



See the difference? Of course you do. Words printed black on a white background are a lot easier to read than white words on a black background. The people in the book trade call that “reverse” type.

Now look at it as reverse type on a “busy” background. Almost impossible to read, eh? Now imagine an entire book printed that way. I doubt if it would ever become a bestseller, don’t you?


I see this sort of mistake all the time. Advertisements, posters, billboards, all kinds of stuff. Lettering that’s so hard to decipher because it’s white on a fussy background. Crazy. What’s the point in writing something that nobody can read?

Then I got to thinking about my website. I came to the conclusion that the text on each page was hard to read. So this morning I decided to change it. It’s now black on white—or the next best thing: black text on a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. And it moves too!

I’d love to know what you think.