The effect of age and font on reading ability
To inform our knowledge of the typographical variables of stroke weight, letter width, and letter spacing, and their effects on different age groups and reading scenarios, we used Radner Reading Chart, where we measured reading speed at different sizes, to compare the fonts KBH Text, KBH Display, and Gill Sans Light. The experiment showed that for older participants, reading Gill Sans resulted in faster reading speed compared to KBH Text. However, Gill Sans could not be recognized at small sizes by either the younger or older participants. For critical print size (CPS), older participants were better at reading small print sizes at a regular reading speed when
the text was set in KBH Text than when it was set in Gill Sans. The findings indicate that older readers are more sensitive to font legibility differences than younger readers.
We discuss the implications of different reading scenarios putting different demands on the fonts as well as the perspective of older readers benefitting from certain visual qualities of fonts.
Beier, S. & Oderkerk, C.A.T. (2019) ‘The effect of age and font on reading ability’, Visible Language, 53.3, 51–69.