With adult literacy rates now over 80 percent worldwide, reading is a primary form of communication for most people. But how do we read? And what should designers know about reading?
IT’S A MYTH THAT CAPITAL LETTERS ARE INHERENTLY HARD TO READ
- People perceive all capitals as shouting, and they’re unused to reading them, so use all uppercase sparingly.
- Save all capital letters for headlines, and when you need to get someone’s attention, for example, before deleting an important file.
READING AND COMPREHENDING ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS
- People are active readers. What they understand and remember from what they read depends on their previous experience, their point of view while reading, and the instructions they are given beforehand.
- Don’t assume that people will remember specific information in what they read.
- Provide a meaningful title or headline. It’s one of the most important things you can do.
- Tailor the reading level of your text to your audience. Use simple words and fewer syllables to make your material accessible to a wider audience.
PATTERN RECOGNITION HELPS PEOPLE IDENTIFY LETTERS IN DIFFERENT FONTS
- Serif and sans serif fonts are equal in terms of readability.
- Unusual or overly decorative fonts can interfere with pattern recognition and slow down reading.
- If people have trouble reading the font, they will transfer that feeling of difficulty to the meaning of the text itself and decide that the subject of the text is hard to do or understand.
FONT SIZE MATTERS
- Choose a point size that is large enough for people of various ages to read comfortably.
- Use a font with a large x-height for online viewing so that the type will appear to be larger.
READING A COMPUTER SCREEN IS HARDER THAN READING PAPER
- Use a large point size for text that will be read on a computer screen. This will help to minimize eye strain.
- Break text up into chunks. Use bullets, short paragraphs, and pictures.
- Provide ample contrast between foreground and background. Black text on a white background is the most readable.
- Make sure your content is worth reading. In the end, it all boils down to whether or not the text on the page is of interest to your audience.
PEOPLE READ FASTER WITH A LONGER LINE LENGTH, BUT THEY PREFER A SHORTER LINE LENGTH
- Line length presents a quandary: Do you give people the short line length and multiple columns that they prefer, or go against their own preference and intuition, knowing that they will read faster if you use a longer line length and a single column?
- Use a longer line length (100 characters per line) if reading speed is an issue.
- Use a shorter line length (45 to 72 characters per line) if reading speed is less critical.
- For a multipage article, consider using multiple columns and a short line length (45 characters per line).
Takeways from the book “100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People” written by Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. I just logging the Takeways given at the end of all chapter of the book. These are not my writing. I am just posting them for me for future reference.