Font legibility and contrst

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Chaitanya G's picture
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Joined: 30 Sep 2012 - 8:39am
Font legibility and contrst
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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 H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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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

Chaitanya G's picture
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Joined: 30 Sep 2012 - 8:39am
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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 H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Tam is also using "flaring" to mean making the ends thicker.

hhp

George Mueden's picture
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Joined: 18 Jun 2006 - 6:02am
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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.