Work in progress
Typeface Legibility

The main concern is a better understanding of how different typefaces affect the reader.

With the growing amount of new electronic devices and media, text is not only presented to us in a number of formats never seen before but also needs to function in a wider range of situations than just a few years ago. This, of course, places additional requirements on the design of contemporary typefaces.

With more and more written communication from official authorities and news media and with an ageing population (which means there are relatively more readers with poor vision) it is essential to understand how different typefaces influence the reader and hence efficient communication.

The research focus addresses these changes in society by building on existing knowledge about reader behaviour with a particular emphasis on selected research areas within the fields of typeface legibility.

In the history of design, there are many examples of designers proposing an ‘ideal typeface’. The fact of the matter is that there is no optimal typeface style. A thorough literature review shows that typeface legibility varies significantly depending on the reading situation. Consequently, what is legible at a distance is not necessarily the same in longer paragraphs that are to be read at close range. By improving the legibility of typefaces for normal vision readers, an additional goal is to provide information that can facilitate inclusive design by meeting needs of the low vision readers as well.

Beier, S. (2016) ’Letterform Research: an Academic Orphan’, Visible Language, 50(2), 18-33.

Dyson, M. & Beier, S. (2016) ’Investigating typographic differentiation: Italics are more subtle than bold for emphasis’, Information Design Journal, 22(1), 3-18.

Beier, S. (2016) ’Designing legible fonts for distance reading’, in: Digital Fonts and Reading, Book series on Language Processing, Pattern Recognition, and Intelligent Systems, M. C. Dyson and C. Y. Suen (eds.), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd, vol. 1, Chapter 5, 75-89

Beier. S., & Dyson, M. (2014) ‘The influence of serifs on ‘h’ and ‘i’: useful knowledge from design-led scientific research’, Visible Language, 47(3), 74-95.

Beier, S. (2013) ‘Legibility Investigations: Controlling Typeface Variables’, Praxis and Poetics: Research Through Design, Conference Proceedings, 92-95, ISBN 978-0-9549587-9-4.

Beier, S. (2013) ‘Typeface legibility: when to use what’, ATypI, 9-13 September, Amsterdam.

Beier, S. (2012) Reading Letters: designing for legibility, BIS Publishers, 1-190.

Beier, S. & Larson, K. (2010) ‘Design Improvements for Frequently Misrecognized Letters’, Information Design Journal, 18(2), 118-137.

For a full list of publications please see: