The influence of typography on algorithms that predict the speed and comfort of reading

Arnold Wilkins*, Katie Smith, Olivier Penacchio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The speed with which text can be read is determined in part by the spatial regularity and similarity of vertical letter strokes as assessed by the height of the first peak in the horizontal autocorrelation of the text. The height of this peak was determined for two passages in 20 fonts. The peak was unaffected by the size of the text or its content but was influenced by the font design.
Sans serif fonts usually had a lower peak than serif fonts because the presence of serifs usually (but not invariably) resulted in a more even spacing of letter strokes. There were small effects of justification and font-dependent effects of font expansion and compression. 2. The visual comfort of images can
be estimated from the extent to which the Fourier amplitude spectrum conforms to 1/f. Students were asked to adjust iBooks to obtain their preferred settings of font and layout. The preference was predicted by the extent to which the Fourier amplitude spectrum approximated 1/f, which in turn was jointly affected by the design of the font, its weight and the ratio of x-height to line separation. Two
algorithms based on the autocorrelation and Fourier transformation of text can be usefully applied to any orthography to estimate likely speed and comfort of reading.
Original languageEnglish
Article number18
JournalVision
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Font
  • Spatial periodicity
  • Discomfort
  • Reading speed
  • Autocorrelation
  • Fourier amplitude spectrum

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