Font Improvement

I write all my papers, letters, and exams using the typeface Times New Roman.  As a lunch-table discussion here in England revealed, the University insists on certain typefaces that are dyslexia-friendly, particularly Arial, Trebuchet, and Verdana.  It costs me or any other faculty member nothing to use one of these on exams; non-dyslexic students are not harmed by them, and dyslexic students are better off.  Henceforth, no more Times New Roman on tests — mine will all be in Arial.  A clear Pareto improvement. (HT: MS)

Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

 

COMMENTS: 23


  1. Harry Guinness says:

    It’s not quite a Pareto improvement as different fonts can convey different things. The more dyslexic friendly Arial is also substantially more casual than the classy Times New Roman. That might be fine for casual communications but if you’re sending someone a stern bollocking then the casual nature of the font won’t gel with the harsh nature of the words! Depending on the school, you might find that the amount of people with an interest in design who would notice font choices might outweigh the number of dyslexics!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 18
  2. EdW says:

    Times New Roman is a serif font, and Arial, Trebuchet, and Verdana are sans-serif. I suspect the cleaner look of a sans-serif font is the reason for the preference.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0
  3. David Wilkinson says:

    *uses Georgia*

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2
  4. ERLW says:

    What about for Mathematics? Serif fonts are a necessity to communicate function f and especially variable x which, sans-serif, would look like a multiplication symbol “blown over”.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2
  5. victoria says:

    Lexia is a font designed especially to be readable by dyslexic people, and it’s free to download! I print all my zines in lexia font http://www.dafont.com/lexia.font

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2
  6. Steve Nations says:

    What about your glob posts?

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2
  7. Steven J. says:

    I don’t know if this is on the Pareto level. Studies have shown that non-serif fonts (like Arial, Verdana, etc.) are slightly harder to read than serif fonts when the text is longer than a few words.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1
  8. Doug B says:

    Daniel,

    Interesting perspective on use of fonts. I never have more than 3 sizes of the same font on any correspondence or artwork. Otherwise it can appear unruly.

    I notice your post uses a font of Georgia 10.5. Perhaps the Freakazoids can update to Arial, Trebuchet or Verdana as a public service.

    Doug

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
    • James says:

      Just FYI, a font and its size and color are all attributes that are completely controllable on the user side. Doesn’t matter what font (if any) the posters specify: I’ve told my browser to display it using the Bitstream Vera sans-serif font, in a size which is large enough to be easily readable – actual point size being irrelevant on a display, of course.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
      • Bill Toscano says:

        One study does not a fact make.

        And, seriously, in the business world no one is changing fonts for you.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
  9. Gervase Markham says:

    Would it still be a Pareto improvement if they required you to use the OpenDyslexic font?
    http://opendyslexic.org/

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  10. John B. Chilton says:

    I use Calibria for tests. In 12 point font. Here’s an article about friendly fonts,

    http://www.dyslexic.com/fonts

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  11. Jess says:

    At least it didn’t advise use of Comic Sans. *shudders* I agree with the idea, though I think as a regular student the font change would throw me off.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
  12. Jorge says:

    Arial is, in a way, helvetica alike, hence, is Helvetica dyslexia-friendly too?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  13. martin says:

    Readers, are we now opening ourselves up to discrimination?????

    Resumes are the tool of how we ‘get a foot in the door’ if we use certain font styles are we not advertising that we are dyslexic. Yes I am dyslexic and do find other fonts easier to read, but I just tried changing my resume into the recommended fonts. For me;
    It doesn’t look as professional;
    If we do recommend this, I stand out as a dyslexic, opening myself up to be overlooked;
    You have to change the font size to fit as many words on the resume.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  14. Mike Deck says:

    There is actually a typeface specifically created to be more readable for people suffering from dyslexia called Dyslexie: http://www.studiostudio.nl/en/information/?lang=project-dyslexie

    Unfortunately it’s not free.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
  15. Suzie R says:

    It’s wonderful that you will be using fonts that are easier for dyslexics to read. The font used on this website is also very hard to read – I’m not remotely dyslexic and it’s quite unpleasant on the eyes.

    Implement the change here, too!

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2
    • James says:

      Just change it yourself, to whatever font & size you like. Should be something like Edit->Preferences->Fonts, depending on your browser.

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  16. LG says:

    My understanding was that serifs actually help improve discerning which character is which. Is there a particular well-designed study that shows that Arial would be better than TNR for dyslexics, and/or that it wouldn’t harm everyone else (how about students with less-than-perfect vision?) just a teensy bit?

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  17. Grant says:

    Times New Roman is not classy, it is sophomoric. It was designed for newspapers, to squish as much text as possible into as little space as possible. It just so happens to have been a choice for the default font for word for many years, but that’s no reason to use it—it was a poor choice on their part.

    The fonts used in books (Garamond, for example) are more reasonable choices for a serif font. Book fonts were designed to look good and read well. Writing in Times New Roman in cases where saving space is not critical immediately sets you apart as a neophyte.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
  18. Chef JoAnna says:

    It’s been proven that Comic Sans is actually more legible than any of those others mentioned. Moreover, there are special typefaces designed just for increased legibility for dyslexics. One of these is called LEXIA http://cl.ly/image/2L042t3U3J3h

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  19. Enter your name... says:

    If you’re going to use a sans serif font on your tests, you might keep in mind that Arial is optimized to display cleanly on a computer screen, at the expense of looking slightly clunky on paper. On paper, you want Helvetica, which is the source for Arial (but designed before computer screens were displaying fancy fonts, and so optimized for paper).

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  20. Janice Hartgrove-Freile says:

    I’m glad to see that Arial and the others have been recognized as dyslexia-friendly. I’ve been using Arial for years. The lack of tails and varying widths in letters is easier for everyone to read. Consider Calibri, also.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0