We all use text every day. Whether we are reading it or writing it, it is there, in front of us. How much thought do you give to the text you use? Unless you are a designer, probably not that much.
By designing our marketing materials and websites with accessible text, we will reach more people. 1.5 million Canadians have sight loss. Five million people in Canada deal with dyslexia. And a whopping 48% or over 18 million Canadian adults have difficulty with literacy.
All of these people buy products and visit websites. If we are smart designers and marketers, we will use accessible text to make our messages clear.
Let’s look at what we should consider when we are designing using text.
The more complicated or decorative the font is, the less likely it is easy to read. This is also true when we use bold, italics and all capitals.
Use only three different fonts in any one design. Too many fonts can be confusing.
Use your fonts to help establish a hierarchy on your page.
Thin fonts or thick fonts can be hard to read. Aim for a medium font, so it is easy to read.
There is no one best-size of text to recommend. However, on a website, you will want to make your text responsive. On paper, lean towards larger text with obvious consideration for the amount of space it will take.
Pad text with white space to block out sections and make them easier to read.
Keep in mind that too much space between paragraphs can disconnect the writing.
Aim for 13-15 words per line. Longer lines are hard to read on a page, and short lines will be broken up by hyphens.
Text can be hard to read if there is too much space between letters and words. The spacing stops letters from forming in the shape of words.
Lightweight text disappears on a page. Medium weighted text usually works best.
Perhaps surprisingly, black text on light gray is easier to read than black text on a pure white background. The white background can create a glare.
If you chose to use coloured text, print it out in grayscale to see if it fades out or becomes hard to read.
If possible, design a website wordmark in text instead of using an image. The wordmark will be easily read by a screen reader used by people who have vision loss.
Jolene MacDonald is the Founder and Creative Director