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Design for readability or don’t bother using text at all.

Text is not an afterthought in the design process. Actually, it should be your first consideration.

Readability should be one of the top concerns when it comes to any design project. If text can’t be read, then why are you designing in the first place? Good design delivers content in a way that is understandable; readability is a big part of comprehension.

Readability is the ease with which text can be read. Comprehension is a key factor in terms of readability, as is being able to quickly look at — and understand — lettering. Readable text can be scanned quickly, from a distance.

Let’s take a look at a few more of the visual standards that contribute to readability:

Line Length

Lines of type, especially in large blocks, that are too long can cause the eyes to tire and make reading difficult. Lines that are too short often result in awkward breaks. If hyphenation is used, short lines will also result in many hyphenated words, which can also break up the flow of reading.

How long a line of type spans can be a key factor when it comes to readability and it is almost unseen.

Space and Contrast

Space and proper contrast are key components when it comes to readability.

Lettering must live in its own space – not share with other lettering or images – and the color of text and the background must be different enough to be distinguishable.

Don’t forget about the margins. Remember to leave some white space around the entire text frame, creating an almost invisible halo. This margin will help set text apart from other “noise,” easing the reader into the copy.

Preferably reserved colored type for big or oversized words or logos.

Hyphenation and Word Breaks

One of the most irritating things to come across as a reader is a giant hyphen in the middle of a headline or a subhead that spans three or four lines deep. Pay particular attention to these details when setting type because they can be both aggravating to readers and difficult to comprehend.

Hyphens cause readers to stop and pause in the middle of a word. They should be eliminated from large type and furniture – anything bigger than 25 points – and used with care in small type.


Whether text is in the center, to the left, or to the right side of a document or screen, is also important and can greatly impact readability. Generally speaking, the strong alignment for text is left-aligned. Left alignment works because it mirrors the way you read – from left to right. You know where each line ends and where the next begins.

Design for readability or don’t bother using text at all. If you want your content to be effective, it must be readable. By designing with readability in mind, you are doing your readers and users a service.

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