Font for calendar for person with bad eyes?

dumpling's picture

I need a typeface for a calendar for my very elderly grandmother. She has very poor vision, so here is what I am thinking:
* Lowercase letters are irrelevant. This is, after all, not an art project.
* Leading is a colossal waste of space.
* Numerals are extremely important.
** The number 11 has two digits; do not try to cram it into one digit's worth of space.
** The numeral 6 should not look like an "8"-wannabe. Sorry, Helvetica.
** Strokes should be thick so Granny can see them.
* I will not pay more than a few dollars (say, $10) for this font. After all, there is always FontStruct and magic markers.

riccard0's picture

Museo, Cabin

dumpling's picture

These will not do. As I said, it is not a work of art, but proportionally spaced digits simply do not belong in this context.

08
09
10
11
12
13
14

With proportional digits: not good.
If you want to see ugly, play any video game in which the score is shown in proportional digits.

1068820 points
1135190 points

Which score is greater?

Joshua Langman's picture

I rather liked the magic markers idea.

How on earth can you defend the idea that proportionally spaced numerals are detrimental in this context? Oldstyle numerals are probably more legible than lining, and are most likely proportional. You can increase the overall tracking if they're too tight. Your grandmother will not, most likely, be playing a video game on her calendar.

Lowercase letters are irrelevant? If you want her to read the calendar, you'll presumably want to use lowercase.

Leading has nothing to do with what font you choose. By which I mean, you can use whatever leading you like. Not sure what this has to do with choosing a font.

I think a face with a large x-height and not too much contrast, like perhaps Georgia, could work well, but you probably don't want a serifed face at all, due to this not being an art project.

Luma Vine's picture

Do you have any examples of calendars that achieve similar goals?

dumpling's picture

I seriously wonder why proportionally spaced numerals even exist. Like I said, "11" is a two-digit number, and should take up two digits' worth of space. I can only see very uncommon exceptions to this: for instance, on a feet-and-inches tape measure, in which 10 and 11 are of course "honorary digits".

I assume that by "oldstyle" numerals you mean those with the general appearance of lowercase text. I do not want descenders in my calendar. As I said, my grandmother has very poor vision. Descenders gobble up space. Also, leading gobbles up space. How large do I need to make my calendar pages?

If one page is something like:

2012 2
06 MO
07 TU
08 WE
09 TH
10 FR
11 SA
12 SU

why would I want to do anything fancy?

Edit: I just saw how the above sample calendar page looked. See why I want nothing to do with proportional-width figures here?

JamesM's picture

Google "large print calendars" and you'll find calendars designed for the vision-impaired. They are often less than $10.

If you'd prefer to make it yourself, size is probably the most important factor. Make it 11 x 17 rather than 8.5 x 11 (if your printer can't go that large, output it at a place like Office Max where they have commercial-quality xerox machines that can output 11 x 17.) Regarding fonts, it would be pretty simple to do a test. Set a sentence if several different fonts and ask your grandmother which is the most readable.

Her ophthalmologist may be able to direct you to other useful resources. A elderly friend of mine was nearly blind from macular degeneration and her doctor had recommendations for special magnifying stands and other products that made it possible for her to still read.

dumpling's picture

I am thinking of making, not a large print calendar, but a huge print calendar. Triple-digit font size huge. And yes, it will be on 11x17 paper.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

06 07 08 09 – bad typography, bad vision

6 7 8 9 – proper typography, good vision

riccard0's picture

These will not do. As I said, it is not a work of art, but proportionally spaced digits simply do not belong in this context.

Not sure about Cabin, but Museo (and its siblings) also has tabular figures:
http://myfonts.us/td-O020Mh

Jens Kutilek's picture

"11" is a two-digit number, and should take up two digits' worth of space.

And a letter is just a letter, so why should an »m« take up more space than an »i«? I suppose you are a big fan of monospaced typefaces.

Té Rowan's picture

@Jens – For @dumpling's intended application and approach, a monospaced face may indeed be the best choice.

How'bout OCR-B?

russellm's picture

Why is it OK to make old people with bad eyes look at ugly type.

Make it big.

Use any damn font you like. If you don't like the spacing of eleven, change it.

Michel Boyer's picture

I googled and found APHont from the Americal Printing House for the Blind, inc. that might be worth trying. There is also Tiresias from the Royal National Institute for the Blind in London, but the digits are not fixed width.

Michel Boyer's picture

> * Leading is a colossal waste of space.

Here is an extract from the American Printing House for the Blind Guidelines

B. Use White Space

Ample white space makes a page more readable and useful because it provides contrast to the print and creates luminance around the text. The primary ways to create white space on the page are to use generous margins, e.g., margins of at least one inch for letters and other business documents. Another way to provide white space is to provide ample spacing, leading and kerning to text.

Martin Silvertant's picture

dupling, I find your comments rather amusing. You seem to be misinterpreting some type design principles which probably makes you want the wrong type of font for your project.
> Lowercase letters are irrelevant. This is, after all, not an art project.
Absolutely ludicrous. What do lowercase letters have to do with an art project specifically?

> Leading is a colossal waste of space.
That's bordering on the psychotic. You know what though, let's reject white space entirely and cramp as much information as we can in as little space as possible.

> I do not want descenders in my calendar. As I said, my grandmother has very poor vision.
Might be a good idea to DO use oldstyle numerals then.

> Descenders gobble up space. Also, leading gobbles up space.
> How large do I need to make my calendar pages?
Depending on the length of descenders they barely gobble up any space. Besides, for an optimal reading experience it's recommended to be quite generous with the leading.

> The number 11 has two digits; do not try to cram it into one digit's worth of space.
Who does that? You can use a unicase font to give each digit equal space, but I have to be honest I've never seen two digits crammed into the space of one.

> The numeral 6 should not look like an "8"-wannabe. Sorry, Helvetica.
How does the 6 resemble an 8, even in Helvetica? I think only in digital clock fonts the numerals use many of the same strokes/shapes but even then the 6 does not like an 8.

> I will not pay more than a few dollars (say, $10) for this font
That's nothing. There are plenty of free fonts which are good, but you seem to be wanting something so awfully specific that I think you probably need to spend $20 per font. If you want a bit of typographical variety in your calendar I suppose a budget of $60 could work. If that's too much, search for a freeware option or buy a calendar instead.

> Why is it OK to make old people with bad eyes look at ugly type.
Very good point. Why do you worry so much your grandmother won't be able to read your type when you can just select a beautiful font and use a larger point size. Depending on the size of your calendar there should be more than enough room for all information.

dumpling's picture

>> The number 11 has two digits; do not try to cram it into one digit's worth of space.
>Who does that? You can use a unicase font to give each digit equal space, but I have to be honest I've never seen two digits crammed into the space of one.

Handel Gothic is an excellent example.

Another example is the font in the image below. I do not know what font this is, but when you are using it to display score in a game (that's what this is), then it is abysmal design.

dumpling's picture

The image:

russellm's picture

A key to good typography is white space. Allow enough and text is easier to read.

For old eyes, lighting and colour contrast are important for legibility.

If you can't take the above axioms into consideration and come up with a legible calender using almost any font you already have, then I think you should just phone her up every day and tell her the date.

:o)

Chris Dean's picture

@dumpling: See

Canadian Department of Heritage (1994). Access series: Design guidelines for media accessibility. (Cat. No. R64-182/5-1993E)

Joshua Langman's picture

"I do not know what font this is, but when you are using it to display score in a game (that's what this is), then it is abysmal design."

But you're not! You're putting it on a calendar. How on earth these two things are related escapes my grasp.

JamesM's picture

Robert, I see your point. Thin font, spaced tightly, with no commas to separate thousands. Not the most readable way to present a score.

But your calendar will just contain short numbers (1-31). And you can put as much space between the digits as you wish.

Try this simple test -- set a few words and numbers using several different fonts & weights (in a very large size), and then ask your grandmother which is easiest for her to read. You may find that a font you already own will work fine when in a large-enough size.

dumpling's picture

I settled on Consolas for my calendar. But I used a capital letter O in place of every zero. (Don't slashed zeros look like eights?) And I decided not to use leading zeros, because the letter O was just a little too wide.

Yes, there are some descenders. I had to make a design compromise or two.

I decided to get rid of some of the leading.

Here is a sample page:
(actual size will be 11 by 17 inches)

dumpling's picture

Image here:

Martin Silvertant's picture

> Another example is the font in the image below. I do not know what font this is,
> but when you are using it to display score in a game (that's what this is), then
> it is abysmal design.
A unicode font and the use of commas or points would've been better indeed, but other than that those numerals are just tightly spaced. But I see what you mean now. The spacing of 1 is just tight because it's such a condensed character. That doesn't exactly mean 2 digits are taking up the space of one; I think that's just coincidental.

> I settled on Consolas for my calendar. But I used a capital letter O
> in place of every zero
If that's no good typographic practice I don't know what is! I find it a bit silly that you have such high demands for your font and in the end you go replace the zeros with capital letters and use quite a tight leading.

And looking at the image, I think you should really go for a unicode font or one with numerals optimized for tabular use.

cerulean's picture

Martin, you seem to be using the words "unicase" and "unicode" to mean monospaced. I don't think he needs any extra misapprehensions, do you?

Maxim Zhukov's picture
But I used a capital letter O in place of every zero. (Don’t slashed zeros look like eights?) And I decided not to use leading zeros, because the letter O was just a little too wide.
In Consolas the zero comes in three flavours: slashed, dotted and hollow. Why using the capital O? I don’t understand.

Martin Silvertant's picture

> Martin, you seem to be using the words "unicase" and "unicode" to mean monospaced. I
> don't think he needs any extra misapprehensions, do you?
Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I happen to misuse "unicase" for 'monospace' quite often. I need to pay more attention to my wording.

dumpling's picture

Now, how do I tell my word processor which variant I want to see? (I use OpenOffice.org Writer.)

Martin Silvertant's picture

Perhaps Microsoft Word 2007 can do that but I only just got it so I don't know its capabilities. Nevertheless, you're doing no good designing a calendar in Word. Better use InDesign.

andrijtype's picture

dumpling,
your grandma reads ukrainian? glad to see )) why not to use PT Serif?

Syndicate content Syndicate content