Reading is unavoidable. Students read textbooks; fathers read newspapers; engineers read manuals; technicians read webpages; politicians read bills; Christians read the Bible, and the list goes on. Everyone reads something. Seeing, perceiving, and recognizing lines and dots as a form of language is a process that is extremely complicated yet necessary. Scientists have researched many aspects of the visual reading process, and one of the most immediately applicable areas of concern is in the field of typography. Researchers are attempting to answer two questions posed by publics such as graphic artists, magazine editors, résumé writers, and even standardized test publishers: What typestyle is best for what situations?, and How do different characteristics of a font affect different audiences?
The term font is a generic word used to express the general computer category of typewritten characters. Similarly, a type or typeset refers to a complete family of sets of characters having a certain fundamental design or structure. For example, the Courier type may include the variations Courier New and Courier Bold. Other typesets are Caslon, Quill, and Old English. Typestyle is used to categorize types by attributive similarities. Two of the most recognizable, and most researched, typestyles are distinguished by the presence or absence of serifs and by fixed width (FW) and variable or proportional width (PW) pitch. Types which display the serif feature add short, decorative lines to the tips of the characters; this line of print (12pt PW) is in Garamond and has serifs. Types such as Arial, as in this line (12pt PW), do not have the serif addition and are thus called sans serifs. A fixed width font may be like...
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Mansfield J.S., Legge G.E., & Bane M.C. (1996). Psychophysics of reading XV: Font effects in normal and low vision. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 8, 1492-1501.
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