Most readable font for PDF e-book?

wlbwlb's picture

I am setting an e-book using InDesign that will be distributed online. The target audience is people who are about to undergo eye surgery (retinal surgery, cataracts, etc.).

I'm trying to decide which fonts might be have the best readability for this audience. I would appreciate any suggestions.

I am considering Leitura News and Leitura Sans. Both come in four weights, and the the no. 2 weight of each is somewhere between a regular roman and a semibold, which strikes me as ideal, bigger than the usual body text, but not screamingly big.

I also am considering Warnock Pro, but it is a bit delicate looking for my purposes.

Any suggestions from you experts?

riccard0's picture

Well, first thing you should check is if the font’s EULA permits PDF embedding.
Then make sure to set it in a not too small size with proper leading.

JamesM's picture

The AIGA (an organization for designers) has an article you might find useful:

"Typography and the Aging Eye: Typeface Legibility for Older Viewers with Vision Problems"

The article recommends using fonts that have:
• Consistent stroke widths
• Open counterforms
• Pronounced ascenders and descenders
• Wider horizontal proportions
• More distinct forms for each character (such as tails on the lowercase letters “t” and “j”)
• Extended horizontal strokes for certain letterforms (such as the arm of the lowercase letter “r” or the crossbar of the lowercase letter “t”)

wlbwlb's picture

As I understand it, it is OK to embed all Adobe fonts. Is this correct?

Also, I checked the EULA for DS Type, which licenses Leitura, and it reads as follows:
The User may embed the font software in a secure electronic document for Previewing and Printing use only. The font software may NOT be used to create or distribute any electronic document in which the font software, or any part thereof, is embedded in a format that permits editing, alterations, enhancements, or modifications by the recipient of such document without obtaining a License Extension from DSTYPE Unipessoal LDA, authorizing you to do so.

I think PDF files fulfill this requirement since, short of hacking in, the fonts in PDF files can't be accessed by users.

And thanks to JamesM for the extremely helpful article on legibility for older viewers.

.00's picture

I think you should double check those EULAs. What you are proposing is a Commercial Use rather than a Business Use. Most EULAs I'm familiar with make this distinction, and require an additional license fee.

On another note, I had double cataract surgery two years ago, and in the year or so prior, when my vision was the poorest, I did not find any difference in reading different type styles. They were all difficult.

AdamC's picture

I would say go with Leitura news. The small caps, ligatures, alternates and swashes improve visibility and make it ideal for an online ebook

JamesM's picture

> think PDF files fulfill this requirement since, short
> of hacking in, the fonts in PDF files can't be accessed
> by users.

I think the EULA you quoted was also forbidding use of that font in an interactive PDF (for example a survey form in PDF format with blank fields that the user fills in on their computer before returning the PDF to the survey company). You should be safe because it sounds like your PDF will be read-only.

SBieber's picture

Why not go with Georgia? If you intend the viewer to read this ebook on a monitor, Georgia is designed for that purpose.

Of the four faces that come with the ibook app on my ipod touch, Georgia is the easiest to read.

Or try Interstate. Highly legible, several weights.

Tim.Donaldson's picture

I agree with SBieber, When I was setting a PDF eBook last year I couldn't justify not using a font like Georgia or Verdana. I ended up using Verdana for the body, and set the headings in Lucida Grande because it reads almost as good as Verdana on screen but Lucida has more elegant caps — which is what I was setting the headings in.

VBM's picture

If your readers are blind, I recommend Braille.

If they're about to undergo eye surgery its probably because they can't read anymore. I had a grandma with a cataract once. She had 10% vision left in that eye. We ended up having to put her down. But that's besides the point. I think you should get a typeface that capitalizes on a 10% reading and recognition level. A big slab serif, like Morgan, Jubilat,or Neutraface. Would work well at 172 pts. Because even when slabs are blurry, like being drunk or almost blind, the definitions of which letters they are still end up being legible. I really think Jubilat looks great in pdfs. Its like the unofficial defacto pdf typeface. If you must go sans, I would stick with blacks. Like they say once you go black... You'll never go ultra lol. Joke. But seriously, ultras tend to get condensed on the details, like on S especially. And bold may not be as impacting as you need, depending on the typeface. Akagi black is good. So is Alright black. Gotham, may be one of those blacks that just look too thin and open. However, using Gotham ultra retains details better than Akagi black I think. Design the ebook first, worry about EULAS latter.

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