Less legible fonts and typography NOT necessarily better for learning - Extensis.com


Less legible fonts and typography NOT necessarily better for learning

Wednesday October 17th, 2012 by Extensis

Dr Myra Thiessen from the University of South Australia (Adelaide) presented some interesting new research at the annual ATypI international typography conference in Hong Kong last week. It was supportive of the results from the previous “ugly fonts” study, but she pointed out that does not mean she agrees with the conclusions generally being drawn from those results. She had some pretty convincing arguments as to why making stuff harder to read in general might not, in fact, enhance learning. Don’t go and immediately make all your presentations, essays and marketing materials harder to read!

Luckily, I got a quick photo of the slide where she summarized the arguments against. Here is the text:

However, if more cognitive capacity is needed in identification that means that less is available for higher-order functions related to comprehension and assimilation.

  • long-term cognitive capacity may be negatively affected
  • no cognitive capacity to engage with other stimular (i.e. less likely to notice the gorilla in the room)

Reading is as much about preference as it is about legibility

  • if a text is difficult to be read it is less likely to be read
  • reader fatigue is more likely

Mediocre photo from my smartphone below. 🙂 (I note that her comments about “preference” are basically why people will tend to prefer and read more legible documents.)

illegiible fonts debunked
illegiible fonts debunked