whats the less eye tiring font?

colore's picture

hello

whats the less eye tiring font?

which for computer screen and which for printed media

thanks

Alessandro Segalini's picture

Can you generalize more your question, it's too specific.

dberlow's picture

"whats the less eye tiring font?"
I'll assume this means to read.

"which for computer screen and which for printed media"
For screens users prefer to ¡see! either b & w, grey scale or ClearType but usually San Serif types. There is debate, indicating to me a wide spectrum of user preference (as well as a loud club of "invented HERE" pushers-in-action), over these three rendering techniques, and which is best for any given combination of user, screen, environment and reading preferences. When seeing is not enough and ¡reading! is desired, *things* change, but it's difficult to know exactly how since no one has done comparative studies of the same fonts and readers and content.

Print is easy, people like to read serif fonts. Adobe Garamond, Poynter Old Style or Century Schoolbook are three good examples of widely used text faces for print that do not tire users out as much as others.

Good luck!

hrant's picture

> a wide spectrum of user preference

More like a bipolar disorder. Mac-heads used to think b&w bitmaps were better than moderate anti-aliasing, now they think FullFuzz™ is best. Windozers mostly just take whatever you throw at them with a "Huh?" Actually the latter is a bit less bad, because you don't want religion interfering in the optimization of reading.

Me, I invent what I push, not push what I invent:
http://www.themicrofoundry.com/manademo/

hhp

William Berkson's picture

Colore, I have suggested before in this forum a measure for reading fatigue. My thought is that it is not so much the eyes as the brain that is tired when type and typography is less than optimal. My suggestion was to measure how soon reading comprehension declines over time--from fatigue--under varying conditions.

To my knowledge, this kind of experiment has not been done yet.

hrant's picture

Bunches of things haven't yet been done, and
won't be, as long as the bouma model is denied.

And of course it's the brain that gets tired and not not the eyes.
Otherwise we couldn't keep looking at stuff all day without having to close them.

However, measuring reading comprehension is unnecessarily complex and brittle.
Comprehension is self-regulating - all you really need to measure is speed.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>all you really need to measure is speed.

That is already being done, as I understand from Kevin Larson's posts here.

I think measuring decline of comprehension with time might better discriminate between better and worse type and typography.

I don't know whether it will turn out to be a more sensitive measure, but it seems to me worth a try.

One might also measure decline of speed with time, which so far as I know has also not been tried.

I would suggest trying both to see whether there is a difference. The key thing in either case is to give time for fatigue to set in. It may be that having demanding reading material will also help get more sharp discrimination to show up.

hrant's picture

> That is already being done

Non-immersively. No good.

> decline of speed with time

No, just speed to complete a long reading task.

> having demanding reading material will also
> help get more sharp discrimination to show up.

No, that moves the measurement from perception to comprehension,
with the latter being outside the scope of typography and type.

The content has to be "normal".

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>No, just speed to complete a long reading task.

Why not measure the decline with time? The profile may tell us something.

The main thing is to push the length of time to where fatigue sets in, and there is a decline in comprehension or speed or both to varying degrees.

>No, that moves the measurement from perception to comprehension,
with the former being outside the scope of typography and type.

Did you mean instead 'the latter', that comprehension is outside the scope of typography? I don't agree, but surely perception is within the scope of typography.

hrant's picture

> Why not measure the decline with time?

You could. Like you say, you could measure many things,
and each will give some bit of insight. But as usual it's a
matter of priorities.

> The main thing is to push the length of time

Yes, but equally important is to foster deep immersion, via non-invasive
testing and... good typography! We need to measure the difference between
good and exceptional, not good and horrible, because in the latter boumas
never have a chance anyway.

> Did you mean instead ‘the latter’

Yes, sorry - I edited it, but apparently not fast enough.

hhp

Kevin Larson's picture

I think there’s a strong need to understand eye fatigue. When someone breaks a finger there is an understanding that the bone in the finger fractured and that it can be repaired by stabilizing it and giving it stress-free time to repair. With eye fatigue we don’t seem to agree even if the fatigue is in the eye or brain.

I’ve been partnering with optometrist James Sheedy’s visual ergonomics lab to learn more about eye fatigue. I’m putting together a talk for ATypI to talk about some of the findings from his lab.

hrant's picture

Certainly saccading is fatiguing - and really that's the
whole point. I guess that doesn't count as brain fatigue,
but neither does it count as retina fatigue... However I
do see that what I wrote above is misleading; possibly I
was too eager to dampen William's contribution - sorry.

Anyway to me it's moot what part is getting tired first.
Instinctively I simply work from the assumption that
fixation duration should decrease and saccade distance
should increase, and the type can help, by making it
easier to map the shapes to words.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>I’ve been partnering with optometrist James Sheedy’s visual ergonomics lab to learn more about eye fatigue.

That's great. But if there is a real difference between legibility [ability to distinguish letters quickly and accurately when flashed at you] and readability [ease of absorbing meaning] then increased brain fatigue as opposed to eye fatigue must be involved in equally legible but less readable material.

Looking only at eye strain would seem to prejudge the issue that there is no valid distinction. Why not look actively for this, and actually test it rather than prejudging it?

After all, typographers for over fifty years have thought the distinction is valid. They may be wrong, but such a prevalent view is at least worth testing, it seems to me.

Also it seems to me that the mental fatigue factor should be pretty readily evident, as you can always lengthen reading time to where everybody gets fatigued and performance--either speed or comprehension or both--go down. Then you can see whether there is a difference between, eg, the same font with different leading and measure, or different fonts that test as equally legible.

hrant's picture

> increased brain fatigue as opposed to eye fatigue must be
> involved in equally legible but less readable material.

Sure, but how is that related to typography?

> such a prevalent view is at least worth testing

Here I totally agree.
And the same thing applies to the serif, concerning which I've tried to
convince Kevin not to simply ignore the mountain of anecdotal evidence.

hhp

Kevin Larson's picture

> After all, typographers for over fifty years have thought the distinction is valid. They may be wrong, but such a prevalent view is at least worth testing, it seems to me.

I think mental fatigue is also an interesting area of investigation. For me it made sense to start with eye fatigue as people complain about eye fatigue from computer usage, and I’d like to do something to reduce that problem, and Sheedy is a top optometrist interested in solving user problems related to computer vision syndrome.

Kevin Larson's picture

> Certainly saccading is fatiguing

How do you know? What would you measure to detect fatigue? How to measure eye fatigue is one of our key questions.

I actually wouldn’t have guessed that saccading is fatiguing as we our eyes constantly saccade when open (and sometimes when closed too). Is breathing fatiguing?

William Berkson's picture

>people complain about eye fatigue from computer usage

Absolutely this is an important area worthy of research, and am glad you are looking into--just as a suffering user!

I look forward to research on the other issue of brain fatigue as well, because I think it will capture a lot of the issues that traditionally print typographers have been concerned with. For example the sans vs serif in extended text--which I think is mixed up with the % black and spacing issues--will I think more likely yield to the extended test looking into the fatigue factor.

edit: Upon reflection, I think that the key thing in distinguishing legibility and readability is not whether the fatigue is due to eye fatigue or brain fatigue, but simply that fatigue is a variable somewhat independent from legibility.

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

I love reading Minion!!! Very easy on the eyes!

hrant's picture

> people complain about eye fatigue from computer usage

But extrapolating that to print is dangerous.

> How do you know?

Common sense.
A key to good design.

But, of course, I do not Know. I do however Think.

> What would you measure to detect fatigue?

Speed. Just leave it all up to speed.
With the right testing parameters, it's all you need.
How do I "know"? Instinct.

> Is breathing fatiguing?

If you do it fast enough for a long enough time, of course. Just like there's strolling to admire the scenery versus running to catch the bus, there's reading a magazine in a waiting room versus reading a research paper for tomorrow's meeting.

hhp

John Hudson's picture

And of course it’s the brain that gets tired and not not the eyes. Otherwise we couldn’t keep looking at stuff all day without having to close them.

I'm sorry, Hrant, I can't tell whether you are being facetious or actually mean this. Maybe my brain is tired :)

Of course, by this silly argument, we couldn't keep thinking stuff all day without having to shut down our brain from time to time. Hmm.

Eye strain is one of the easiest, least subjective aspects of reading to measure, because eye movement is controlled by muscles and we can compare how those muscles move when performing different tasks, including reading different typefaces. Obviously there is going to be greater variability in eye strain between larger factors, e.g. different sizes of type, quality of reproduction, etc.

Muscles get tired, so eye-tiredness is, if you'll excuse the phrase, a no-brainer. The brain doesn't have moving parts, so in what sense does it get tired? Obviously not in the same sense that eyes get tired. What happens is that we get tired -- get holistically tired, if you like --, and lack of rest starts to affect the brain's ability to function properly. Unlike muscle fatigue, which can be addressed by resting or refocusing the particular muscle groups -- e.g. closing your eyes, looking at more distant objects --, brain fatigue requires overall rest (during which the brain, ironically, may be quite active for long periods).

So long as I am well-rested, my brain doesn't get tired from reading, and if it does get tired -- i.e. my attention wanders, my content retention diminishes -- that is symptomatic of general exhaustion, not because I've overexhausted my synapses. My eyes always give out before my brain does.

Si_Daniels's picture

Link to blurb on Kevin's ATypI talk - love the title...

http://www.atypi.org/05_Brighton/20_main_program/view_presentation_html?...

John Hudson's picture

Thanks, Si. Okay, so correct my previous statement that 'eye strain is one of the easiest, least subjective aspects of reading to measure'. It should be one of the easier aspects to measure, but apparently researchers have only just started trying.

William Berkson's picture

>So long as I am well-rested, my brain doesn’t get tired from reading, and if it does get tired — i.e. my attention wanders, my content retention diminishes — that is symptomatic of general exhaustion, not because I’ve overexhausted my synapses.

In general, any repetitive task, mental or physical, I think tires one quickly. For example, if you do a series of sums non-stop I predict that in not such a long time you will start to make mistakes, and not because of general fatigue. --If you switch to push-ups, you won't do fewer than you would be able to at the beginning. I may be wrong, but that's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

If you don't experience this, you are blessed. I personally cannot keep at a single task non-stop without experiencing 'brain fry' at some point within an hour. So I stop, take a short break, read Typophile :), and then return to the work task.

According to the book Fatigue as a Window on the Brain "cognitive fatigue" is a reality, and I see from googling that there are scientific articles on cognitive fatigue in astronauts, soldiers, victims of multiple sclerosis, stroke and others. Some of this relates to the impact of physically induced fatigue on mental performance, but others seem to look at the impact of mental tasks.

Kevin Larson above seems to think this is a legitimate area of research also.

I agree with you that eye fatigue is certainly real--I've had headaches from wrong lens prescriptions, for example--but so is cognitive fatigue, both in my experience and it seems from the scientific literature.

edit: This article reports a test of mental fatigue due to visual attention tasks.

hrant's picture

> I can’t tell whether you are being facetious

I was just being wrong - see my post of noon.

> Muscles get tired, so eye-tiredness is, if you’ll excuse the phrase, a no-brainer.

Yup. My "common sense".

hhp

dberlow's picture

"How to measure eye fatigue is one of our key questions."
And I have no doubt you will find an answer without testing screen vs. print reading. ;)

William Berkson's picture

Bill: [perhaps] having demanding reading material will also help get more sharp discrimination to show up.

Hrant: No, that moves the measurement from perception to comprehension,
with the latter being outside the scope of typography and type.

Legibility I think is primarily a perception issue--distinguishing one letter form from another. But readability has to do with ease of comprehension. While it is difficult to draw the line between perception and cognition--there are layers of processing--poor typography I think is cognitively taxing. So with fatigue induced by long reading of demanding material, the differences between better and worse typography may be more evident as our 'elasticity,' our ability to put out more effort and compensate for the problems will pass its limit.

Actually, looking at some of the material on line about cognitive fatigue, the differences in better and worse typography may show up also in subjects who are physically fatigued. Just have the subjects run five miles (if they are not marathoners!) and have them read something demanding with varying typography, and the differences may show up clearly.

hrant's picture

> readability has to do with ease of comprehension.

For authors, editors, etc. But for type designers a different distinction between legibility and readability exists: the former concerns deliberative reading, the latter immersive. Terminology depends on scope and context.

hhp

dberlow's picture

"apparently researchers have only just started trying."
I think you'll find that many interests were involved before 1999 in the publishing world, and many more have sprung on this since 1999, and that x900 more will begin springing up since the beginning of the year 2007. What I learned about print, was that aside from abnormal behavioral or physical causes, most print reading fatigue is related to being generally fatigued, then comes lack of good physical reading posture for the given environment, and then quality of reading material. For screen, aside from abnormal behavioral or physical causes, it's reversed.

This reversal (and recent mushrooming) is, I believe caused by what causes all reading fatigue --additional interference in the reading path by unclear edges and adjacentcies in the material, and there is just a whole lot more of it on the screen. It'll be interesting to see what the pros come up with though.;)

William Berkson's picture

>for type designers

Hrant,I have used the distinction as it has been used for the past fifty years at least.

Legibility is how quickly and accurately one can read a word or a few words flashed on a screen, or seen as one approaches a distant sign on the road. These are different conditions, but would fall under 'legibility'. Readability is the ease of reading extended text. That subjective experience of 'ease' I suspect can be tested by having subjects read to the point of fatigue.

Your different distinction may be valid, but it is yours and not a generally used one. I personally don't understand it.

hrant's picture

> I have used the distinction as it has been
> used for the past fifty years at least.

Pfft. It's still misleading. "Eat Moose. 50,000 wolves can't be wrong."
Don't worry, there are things in type that are 500 years old and even
more misleading.

> Legibility is how quickly and accurately one can
> read a word or a few words flashed on a screen

This is not a useful definition. For one thing, it leaves no term for the
decipherment of individual letters, which is a critical building-block.

BTW, this definition is not standard at all - in fact it's quite rare.

> Readability is the ease of reading extended text.

Yes, but in the domain of type, nothing to do with content.

My definition-pair accomodates the evidence, not least the anecdotal,
for example that people think they can read sans better but in fact
wouldn't manage a book in one.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

Hrant, that was an illustration; here is a definition:

"'Legibility' is based on the ease with which one letter can be told from the other. 'Readability' is the ease with which the eye can absorb the message and move along the line."

That definition--which includes both speed and comprehension--is from 'Types of Typefaces', 1967, reflecting current usage. According to the acknowledgments those who read the MS of the book and presumably did not have an objection to the definition include W. Hunter Middleton, Ed Rondthaler and Beatrice Warde.

If you want to introduce a new distinction, that is fine, but you and I don't get to decide on the meaning of publicly used words; it is what it is. In this case the definition reflects the usage in the type community it seems since the 30's.

hrant's picture

You just spontaneously changed your definition of legibility!

Anyway the big old names don't scare me. And Warde? The cheerleader?!
Your hyper-conservative attitude has no place in my world.

> If you want to introduce a new distinction

I did that over 8 years ago.

> you and I don’t get to decide on the meaning of publicly used words

Of course not. But you and I do get to tell each other what we like and don't like
about our respective definitions. I think yours are almost entirely useless.

hhp

hrant's picture

This big old names cannot prevent me from thinking. From my Typo-13 article:
"In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble
reasoning of a single individual." - Galileo Galilei

hhp

William Berkson's picture

Hrant, what nonsense are you writing? Nobody is trying to stop you from thinking, least of all me.

And I didn't change the definition. I learned it from that book, and have cited it on Typophile repeatedly,and put it in the Typowiki.

What exactly is your own distinction? As I said I don't understand it, and I'm sure others are in the same boat. Please define 'deliberative' and 'immersive', because I don't know what they mean, and I'm sure others are in the same boat.

hrant's picture

You wield precedent like a club.

And if you haven't absorbed what I've written about this umpteen
times over many years, why would you bother absorbing it now?
Anyway, Google.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>>You wield precedent like a club

Rubbish. I said you are free to bring a new distinction. If it is better, more power to you.

>And if you haven’t absorbed what I’ve written about this umpteen
times over many years, why would you bother absorbing it now? Anyway, Google.

I tried googling, but didn't find a definition.

I find you talking about immersive reading plenty but I still don't know your definition and don't know what you mean.

I am not the smartest guy in the world, but I am also not stupid. And if I'm confused by your terminology then so are others.

hrant's picture

It's not about intelligence, but objective diligence.
Google: "site:typophile.com deliberative immersive hhp"
But anyway it's not like you just got here. This makes me
feel a bit like a dunce for reading everything you write.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

Hrant, I just googled with the key words you recommended, and got to this thread from 2004: http://typophile.com/node/6174

In it, John Hudson says he doesn't know what you mean by deliberative, and Kevin Larson also says he doesn't know. You do make a claim about reading speed for 'immersion' that you then retract. So far as I know, that's where it rests, which is why I asked for something new. You just seem to take offense, so never mind.

>additional interference in the reading path by unclear edges and adjacentcies in the material

That makes sense, but I wonder if there are also additional factors--factors like too tight leading or long measure, excessively light or dark type, irregular spacing, excessively high contrast between thick and thin, and so on.

hrant's picture

> http://typophile.com/node/6174

What an objective, diligent choice among the 58 hits!
And what astute comprehension skills! My last post in
that thread is clearly all retraction...

> that’s where it rests

Yeah, I've been quiet about all this since 2004.

hhp

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

Gentium is also great!

joeclark's picture

Here we have it: David Berlow advertising Adobe Garamond as some kind of appropriate font.


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

Nick Shinn's picture

To my knowledge, this kind of experiment has not been done yet.

Claude Hopkins was working "in the field" along those lines in the 'teens and 'twenties:

Scientific Advertising

IIRC, he used split runs of direct mail promotions to refine which advertising techniques worked best.
The pieces were text heavy -- he was a copywriter. A great influence on another text-centric ad man, David Ogilvy.
It's been a while since I read the book, and I don't recall whether he tested different type treatments, or just different copy.
I do remember that Ogilvy used the split-run technique to test two identical versions of a charity ad, one with positive type and one with reverse, and the positive type raised way more money, not just a percentage, but something like ten times.

dberlow's picture

" ...two identical versions of a charity ad..."

"whats the less eye tiring font?"

I'm not sure how long winded your charities are up there, but I'd have trouble getting tired from just one.

Cheers!

russellm's picture

the way people experience fatigue from reading is by not bothering to finish something... In a magazine, which as I recall is where Ogilvy placed those ads, there's always something else to move onto - Even if it's the next ad or piece of junk mail.

Nobody reads a half page and goes, "Man, I'm whacked!" They just turn the page, without even knowing why.

I think it would be next to impossible to pick one face as 'the least tiring'. But you could set some parameters that will tend to indicate if a font could be less tiring than some others. You could start with open shapes, large counters, Large(ish) x-height and tracking that isn't too tight and so on. In other words, almost any well designed typeface intended for imersive reading.

Nick, I was just involved in some 'legibility' testing for a signage typeface with a well know Canadian institute for the blind, here in Toronto... (round 2, if Joe is reading. I forced a second round of testing after pointing out some serious flaws in the first round). The trouble with this sort of testing so far as I have seen (with the notable exception of ClearviewHWY) is that nobody doing the testing knows anything about typography ("X-height is how big the letters are, right? - And kerning is how far apart the are, and serifs are..." "UH, yeahwhatever") and the discount the skill of the designer, and then make ridiculous comparisons of completely dissimilar typefaces the basis of their experiments.

R

Nick Shinn's picture

The ad was for Save The Children, and the black type "raised twice as much money", according to Ogilvy on Advertising. He wrote that book in 1983, retired in his chateau in France.

"If you start your body copy with a drop initial, you increase readership by 13%"
"It is now known that widows (short lines) increase readership".
"This is 11-point, and about right"

-more gems from Ogilvy, the result of readership surveys. Note that the term emphasizes the reader (albeit as a marketing demographic), whereas our "readability" focuses on the text.

russellm's picture

I've read the book several times, but not lately.

R

dberlow's picture

"...the[y] discount the skill of the designer, and then make ridiculous comparisons of completely dissimilar typefaces the basis of their experiments."
Now now. The designer is unimportant to these readability or legibility issues. The issues are engineering problems, not design problems.

"...with the notable exception of ClearviewHWY..."
Though the face is a notable exception, the testing is hardly better than what anyone else with an agenda has done.

Cheers!

ChuckGroth's picture

That's interesting. I've read the Ogilvy twice -- once in the 90s and once this century -- and I'm still not clear in my own mind what I think of his conclusions.

russellm's picture

Well, dberlow, - hardly better is still better, isn't it? :)

now, I'm off to re-read Mr. Ogilvy.

Nick Shinn's picture

In his own time, with his copy-heavy ads, Ogilvy was against the grain of the "word+image=big idea" school of advertising which won all the awards and made the history books. But he was very successful and not alone in his method.

Nowadays, would anyone dream of putting so much text in an ad? Very rarely, but that's not to say that text-centric marketing has vanished, as there is a whole genre of advertorial newsletters in print and online, and often the editorial in periodicals is thinly disguised advertising. Just look at the massive auto and real estate sections in daily newspapers, hardly objective journalism.

joeclark's picture

Berlow is quite wrong about that, in theory and in practice, but since he’s been around forever the kids are likely to believe him. As are the managers, who cannot differentiate one font from another unless it’s a true apples/oranges comparison (Univers vs. Arial, no; Times [“New”] Roman vs. Comic Sans, yes). We’re trying to get the discussion beyond “Let’s compare our new legibility font and Comic Sans” to “Let’s compare our new legibility font against plausible alternatives.”


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

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