Making Text Readable
The following rules of thumb
make text more readable on the page, whether printed or on
- Use sans serif fonts for headings and decorative
text; use serif fonts for body text. Serif fonts
are generally more readable for large bodies of text—this
is why books are usually typeset in them.
- Use left-aligned body text with a ragged-right
margin. Justified text tends to be harder to scan
than ragged right-text, because the reader's eye has to compensate
for spaces that vary in width. Center- or right-aligned text
also tends to be harder to read, since the beginning of the
lines don't necessarily line up on the page.
- Avoid ALL-CAPS. Using all-caps deprives
the reader of some very important information: the "shape"
of the word.
- Use type contrasts consistently, and don't overuse
them. Using more than one or two types of "specialness"
for text simultaneously—such as using Small-Caps,
Italic, Bold, and Underline all at once—actually
reduces the text's uniqueness and effectiveness. Also,
use type contrasts consistently to help convey the
function, structure, and meaning of the text.
For example, make sure that similar headings are always
typographically identical and have similar whitespace and
- Don't present lines that are too long. Lines
that stretch too far across the page or screen are hard
to scan. If you have to use long lines, add more whitespace
between the lines (leading).
- Use readable fonts. Times
New Roman isn't a particularly readable font in
print or on the screen; the letters are very narrow (it
was designed for a newspaper, after all). When designing
for the computer screen, consider using fonts like
and Verdana, which were designed
specifically for the medium.