New to Typophile? Accounts are free, and easy to set up.
Today at Reading, we had the first part of a series of seminars looking at typeface legibility. In it we presented two papers and discussed them, the first one being Kevin Larson's "The Science of Word Recognition" and the second being "ClearType sub-pixel text rendering: Preference, legibility and reading performance" by Sheedy, et al. The Sheedy paper is the one that sparked my interest. In it 5 legibility studies on CT are discussed and if I understand correctly, the results have thus far been inconclusive as to whether legibility is improved with the aid of CT technology. However there was 1 study that asked subjects to self-rate factors of comfort of reading. It occurred to me that comfort may actually be a more important factor to consider than legibility or speed when speaking of reading. It seems less important to me to discuss whether people can read something as opposed to do they want to read something based on the degree of comfort or discomfort created by the type. Of course, there are some situations (such as highway signage) where legibility and speed of reading is important, but I believe that in a majority of situations these factors are less important. When focusing on the factor of comfort, the problem as it seems to me, is that it may appear to be a soft target when compared to legibility/reading speed. I have heard talk of studies that are looking at the effects of patterns created by type and certain patterns actually creating discomfort, even at the level of causing stress and fits in the reader. Personally, I think that this aspect of reading is the more interesting one. If any of you have opinions or can shed more light on this topic, I would love to hear what more can be said in regards to the comfort or discomfort caused by type.