Font legibility and contrst

Typogruffer's picture

Hey guys,

I think i can post again and thanks a lot to Kent.
While going through some articles, I realized contrast in typeface is very important but i can not find factors of design which affect the contrast. What are the factors that affect contrast? Is it x height, thickness of stroke or anything else?
Also to improve legibility, some people are designing fonts with tapered edges( called flaring and expansion of edges in a specimen). Does this really affect the legibility? and if it does any other points that can affect legibility.

Thanks
Typo

hrant's picture

First off it's important to note that proper empirical testing of typeface performance remains elusive. So we don't really Know too much. But that doesn't relieve us of the need/benefits of thinking, and acting on our conclusions.

Contrast: Do you mean a difference between thick and thin parts of letterforms? If so, it's treated (by designers who think straight :-) as its own thing, so others factors don't have to affect it, at least not one-directionally - it's more a matter of the various attributes being in balance.

Flaring: I'm assuming you mean where the ends of "strokes" get thicker. Although serifs are agreed by most people as helping readability, and flares could be seen as "pseudo-serifs", I suspect most people incorporate flaring as a purely stylistic element, not a functional one.

hhp

Typogruffer's picture

Hmmm... i thought flaring meant getting the edges thinner. As you can see in the page 11 of the spec book of arrival sans(http://keithtam.net/documents/arrival_spec.pdf)...
According to the spec books he says flaring increases the visibility from a distance. Is this true?

hrant's picture

Tam is also using "flaring" to mean making the ends thicker.

hhp

gfmueden's picture

I have poor contrast sensitivity and read using a bold font, one with thick strokes, e.g., Arial Black.
Fonts with serifs tend to have thin strokes connecting the verticals and my eyes don't see them, leaving a forest of tree trunks with no branches, so I stick to fonts with uniform strokes as being of higher contrast throughout.

On the other hand, when displaying copy in white on black, I use a font with thin strokes, the copy standing out and my eyes not being blinded by the blaze of white in a b/w display.

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