Reading in the Real World

When you are trying to read mail and other writing, many things will affect if you are able to read, such as:

  • Line and letter spaces. Read the next few words:


Now read the same words with more space between each line and letter:

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  • Space between each letter can be condensed, normal or expanded. Expanded spacing is easiest to read.
  • Contrast will also make a difference. Here is a sentence that may be harder to read because the print and the background are similar:

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Most people with partial vision prefer contrast combinations that are bright against dark or visa versa, like black and white, or yellow and black.


Some styles of print, called fonts, are easier to read then others. On the next page is a poem, printed in different fonts. If you have read it before, it will be easier for you to make sense of some of the fonts that are more difficult to read. If you have not read it before, the repeated words and the rhymed words will be easier to read. Most of the poem is single-space printing, so you may want to use a ruler, your finger or other guide to keep your place. Remember: Rest your eyes when they tire!

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TIP: Most print is not large print. A low vision rehabilitation service can help you find a magnification device that will help you read print that is this size:

Here is standard, 12-point print. Extra space between lines and task lighting also helps reading.

It is not unusual for magazines and newspapers to use 10-point print. It’s very small!

In standard dictionaries, CD notes, clauses in legal contracts or medicine instructions, the print size can be 8 points or smaller.


Look at your mail each day. Can you tell who it is from? Can you find and read the most important parts?

Try to read a TV guide. This print is very small, and the letters are close together.

Try to read a take-home restaurant menu before you go out.

Take a magnifier to a store to read labels and price tags. Use it only when you must. Items that you buy again and again will be easy to spot, and you may not need to know the price.

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