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Written by Anja Fuchs

Which font is easy to read?

New study brings important insights into the use of fonts

In which font should a text in “Easy Language” be written? We have commissioned a study and are looking into the question of which fonts contribute to readability and comprehensibility.

Actually, there are clear recommendations as to the font in which texts in “plain language” should be written. However, these recommendations are not based on scientific findings, but have arisen historically. For a long time, computers did not have many fonts to choose from.

We commissioned a study to find out which fonts can increase the readability and comprehensibility of a text.

The study focused on people with learning difficulties. They read texts in different fonts. In selecting the fonts, the study focused on common fonts.

How was the readability of the fonts tested?

The study tested how quickly the different fonts could be read. Errors in reading aloud were also documented. At the end, the study participants were asked what they thought about the font:

Bild einer Studienteilnehmerin die Schriftarten auf Lesbarkeit prüft
  • What do you think of the font? 
  • What do you think about the font size?

Result: The study contradicts current recommendations.

The study brings important insights into the readability of fonts. The results refute some common assumptions and recommendations.

What font size is easy to read?

For texts in “Easy Language”, font size 14 pt is usually recommended.

The study shows that smaller font sizes can sometimes even be read faster and better.

The appropriate font size also depends on the print product. In the study, 12 to 12.5 pt proved to be well readable for print products in A5 format.

Which font is easy to read?

For texts in “Easy Language”, the font “Arial” is usually recommended.

As part of the study, we tested 5 fonts for legibility. The font Arial and 4 weights of the Thesis font family:

  • Arial
  • Thesis TheMix
  • Thesis TheSan
  • Thesis TheSerif
  • TheAntiquaB

Here you can see a comparison of the tested fonts:

Schriftarten Studie - Lesbarkeit von Texte - capito

The surprising result: the study contradicts two common recommendations for texts in easy-to-understand language.

1. the font “Arial” is NOT particularly legible.
In the study, Arial performed comparatively poorly. About 80 % of the other fonts were read faster. 

2. Sans serif fonts are NOT more readable.
The study showed that serif fonts are actually read slightly faster than sans serif fonts.

Which font is particularly easily readable?

The most important finding of the study: The same principles apply to people with learning difficulties as to people without learning difficulties. 

The one font and font size that is equally legible for all people does not exist. The decisive parameters are those that also apply when determining legibility for all target groups. Serif fonts are just as suitable as sans serif fonts. The important thing is that they fulfil the readability criteria according to DIN 1450.

The study shows that the study participants look at and evaluate the different fonts very carefully. The study advises to choose the font based on the context: If, for example, a company publishes a text in easy-to-understand language, the font chosen for the corporate design can be used. The prerequisite is that the font meets the criteria of readability. In this way, the font can help to classify texts more quickly and contribute to comprehension.

A universally valid recommendation for a font would, similar to uniform designs, be stigmatising and could make situational text comprehension more difficult.

Are you surprised by the results of the study? Which font do you use for your texts? Share your experiences in the comments!

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