Principles of typography for the screen

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Title: Principles of typography for the screen
Author: Glassman, Tracy
Abstract: For the past 500 years humans have been developing means of communication through the development of technology for producing and presenting pages of printed text to the reader. The idea of communicating with letters by the composition of a page grew from traditional manuscript writing of the 15th century to today's electronic portable document for the World Wide Web. But unlike the properties of ink on paper, computers, monitors and electronic documents pose many new and different problems which don't apply to paper. One of the major problems with viewing text on a monitor is resolution. Most monitors today have 72 dots per inch considerably less than the 2400 dots per inch used for print. The second problem associated with on-screen reading is the uncomfortable viewing conditions caused by flicker on a computer monitor. Due to these deficiencies, good font rendering on computer screens is nearly impossible. The purpose of this study was to develop a new set of typographic parameters to compensate for on-screen reading and viewing. By evaluating legibility studies for print and various studies for the legibility of computer monitors, conclusions can be made about how text should be set and arranged for the screen. In this study nine tests were designed to find the preferred characteristics of typography for the screen. The nine factors tested were: typeface, type size, leading, line length, paragraph indent, text format, hyphenation, margins and color. Each characteristic chosen for testing was based upon the viewing conditions of todays computer screens. Three-hundred and eight electronic documents were created and linked together for two testing sessions. The observers were shown various paragraphs of text and were asked to choose which paragraph was more legible to them. The preferences for each observer were marked on each final test page so that the results could be calculated. Based on the results of the testing for this experiment, using the paired comparison method, the hypothesis has been proven to be correct. Out of nine separate tests, seven principles must be changed to ensure legibility for on-screen reading. By further analysis of the results of the testing, the author found that there were no significant differences between what was preferred by male versus female observers.
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Date: 1997-11

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