Legibility Implications of Embellished Display Typefaces

By subjecting participants to brief exposure of single letters in the peripheral visual field, we investigated 1) hemispheric differences in reading of embellished display typefaces, and 2) the legibility difference between different kinds of embellished display typefaces. The test typefaces are designed for the purpose of controlling for the variables of swashes, stroke contrast and drop shadow.

The results show that all fonts are processed more accurately in the right visual field (corresponding to initial processing in the left hemisphere), and this is mainly evident when exposure is very brief (Experiment 1). This is contrary to the expectation that embellished typefaces should have an advantage when presented to the right hemisphere/left hemisfield. There was also a clear difference in overall performance between the different embellished typeface styles, suggesting that legibility is more affected by swashed features than by a reversed letter stroke, or by a drop shadow.

When choosing between different styles of embellished display typefaces, it is therefore recommended to choose typefaces where the letter skeleton is not too complicated to decode.

Beier, S, Sand, K. & Starrfelt, R. (2017) ‘Legibility Implications of Embellished Display Typefaces’, Visible Language, 51.1, 112-132.