Smooth roads, soft beds, large windows, and sound-proof walls spell comfort to the average human being. The same feelings maybe applied to optimum reading comfort of the printed word: suitable paper, sharp printing, well-justified composition, and clean, open, universally recognized letterforms guarantee optimum legibility. —Adrian Frutiger
“Legibility” is based on the ease with which oneletter can be told from the other. “Readability” is the ease with which the eye can absorb the message and move along the line. —from ‘Types of Typefaces,’ by J. Ben Lieberman, 1967
1. LEGIBILITYLegibility refers to a reader’s ability to easily recognize letterformsand the word forms built from them. We don’t read by recognizingone letter at a time, but by recognizing the shapes of whole words and phrases.
1 . L E G I B I L I T Y FA C T O R SType size is the most abused legibility attribute.
1 . L E G I B I L I T Y FA C T O R S Text type has a greater need for legibility thandisplay type because text type is smaller, so character and word recognition is made more difficult.
1 . L E G I B I L I T Y FA C T O R S Type’s legibility is determined in part by the spaceswithin and immediately surrounding each character. As type’s size gets smaller, the spaces must be increased.
1 . L E G I B I L I T Y FA C T O R S The alphabet has four shapes: vertical, round,vertical/round combination, and angular. Letters in each group can be mistaken for another: choose a typeface where distinctions are clear.
2. READABILITY Readability refers to the facility and comfort with which text canbe comprehended. Text with good readability must also be legible, but more legibility doesn’t make text readable.
2 . R E A D A B I L I T Y FA C T O R SOptimal text size is 10 to 11 pt.Medium weight produces maximumlegibility: the relationship of letterforms tocounter spaces is balanced.Paragraphs of italic text are harder to readthan roman.Optimal line length is two alphabets(52 characters).Optimal letterspacing is invisible.Wordspacing should be sufficient toseparate words but not so much that itweakens lines of type.
2 . R E A D A B I L I T Y FA C T O R SLinespacing should increase with linelength.Alignment: Consistent word spacing makesflush left easier to read than justified type.Type color and background: Black onwhite is about twice as fast to read as whiteon black. Reducing contrast between typeand back ground causes loss in legibility andreadership.Readers prefer serif faces for text reading.High gloss paper makes images look greatbut makes type hard to read.
4. TYPOGRAPHERS QUOTES Apostrophe vs prime, quotes vs inches.Straight or “dumb quotes” vs typographer, smart, or curly quotes.
5. ELLIPSES An ellipses indicates omission and is also called a suspension point, or more commonly, dot-dot-dot. When the omitted words are within asentence, use a three-dot ellipsis preceded and followed by a space. The ellipses is not three periods, but a special character that is found under the type menu under “Insert Special Character.”
6 . W H I T E S PA C E C H A R A C T E R S Letterspace, em space, tabs. (see also, hair space,non-breaking space, thin space, figure space, punctuation space).
7 . D O U B L E S PA C E Use only one space after periods.Never hit the space bar more than once.
8. DOUBLE RETURNSUse space before and space after to create extra space between paragraph-level elements.
9 . PA R A G R A P H S H A P E Soft line breaks allow you to start a new line without startinga new paragraph. This will avoid creating a new paragraph that takeson the potentially unwanted formatting attributes of the paragraph that it came from. You create a line break by holding down the shift key when pressing return.
If using flush-left alignment, keep and eye on excessive rags on the right- hand side, as well as unnatural repetition and alignment at the end oflines. If using justified text, be sure to avoid rivers—uneven and excessive spacing between words.
10. FRACTIONSA single space should be used after periods. Fractions should normally be set as shown on the right. Most of the common fractions should bebuild into the font, and can be accessed in the “Glyphs” palettes under the “Type” menu. Besides fractions, other numerical signs, like the multiplication sign, might also be hidden in the font’s glyph set.
11. WIDOWS before afterWidows and orphans can be corrected by discriminating tracking, line breaks (soft returns), and, if possible, copy editing.
12. ORPHANSRepresentative Roscoe G. Bartlett legislation.is conﬁdent that in voting againsta $35 billion expansion of the The struggle here in Frederick County,State Children’s Health Insurance a crossroads of the Civil War, not farProgram, he reﬂected the views of his from Antietam and Gettysburg, is aconservative Congressional district in microcosm of national debate overwestern Maryland. But some of his the child health bill.constituents are not so sure. “Roscoe just looks mean and petty,”“It’s a good program,” said Edward said Amy-Catherine McEwan, aWrzesinski Jr., a Republican who manager at the Frederick Countymanages Frederick Primary Care Humane Society. “He looks likeAssociates, a group practice with Snidely Whiplash, the cartoon villain,24 doctors and eight ofﬁces. “It’s taking medicine away from littlebeneﬁting children.” kids.”Mr. Bartlett, a Republican, was the But Walter T. Mills, the proprietor ofonly member of the Maryland a barbershop here for 32 years, saiddelegation to vote against the bill, and he and many of his customers agreedhe is coming under intense pressure to with Mr. Bartlett.switch sides as the House movestoward a vote next week on whether Mr. Mills, a Republican, summarizedto override President Bush’s veto of the the reasons for his opposition to the
13. LINING AND NON-LINING FIGURES AKA Arabic and old style/lowercase/hanging numerals. Arabicnumerals are the familar digits used in arithmetic; they all have the same height and all stand on the baseline. Normally, they all have the same width, for better alignment in tabular work. Old style numerals contain characters that have descenders and are only as tall as the face’s x-height. They are used like small caps—they blend in better when used in running text, and have more interesting shapes than lining figures. However, they typically have unique character widths, making them usually unsuitable for tabular work. The third type of numerals are roman numerals (I, IV, XIIXV).
1 4 . PA R A G R A P H L E N G T HOn average, line measures should be between 35–65 characters long.
1 5 . D O N ’ T U S E D E FA U LT S — at least not all of the time, but some settings should always be considered for adjustment, such as tabs, line spacing, and bullets.Kerning and tracking settings should be adjusted in some situations, as with large or small type, all caps, italics, and special characters.