December 13, 2018

Bold Print May Not Be All That Helpful

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Bold Print May Not Be All That Helpful

A well-known standard for publishing for low vision readers has been incorporation of large print, clear fonts, and bold lettering. Now a small study has shown that bold lettering may not be as important as previously thought. A team of researchers reported in December 2018 to the newsfeed of Science Direct that increasing boldness of letters did not increase reading speed by a small group of visually impaired subjects.

At first, this seems to defy common sense. The rule of the “3 Bs” (Bigger, Brighter, and Bolder) has long been a widely-accepted practice in every medium of accessible print. Dropping the third B, however, might be a positive step for publishers, since the cost of space and ink could be significantly reduced. To test the results, here is a short sentence printed first in standard font, then in bold:

1. This is a comparison of standard and bold font.

2. This is a comparison of standard and bold font.

According to the researchers, readability of line 2 should be equal to line 1. More study is needed to confirm these findings, but it will be interesting to follow any developments that result. Read the abstract for details of the study methods and results.

Study reference:
Chung STL, Bernard JB. Bolder print does not increase reading speed in people with central vision loss. Vision Research. December 11, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].

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