Monday, August 13, 2007

Examining Legibility of the Letter "e" and Number "0" Using Classification Tree Analysis

A scholarly paper on the legibility of on-screen letters ...

"Summary. This study investigated the legibility of onscreen typefaces and the influence of individual character features on correct identification. Specific attributes of alphanumeric characters and symbols shown to be the least legible were measured and analyzed using a statistical method called classification tree analysis. Results from this analysis for the letter "e" and the number zero are discussed.


Typeface legibility is becoming an important issue as reading shifts from print to onscreen (Shaikh & Chaparro, 2004). The common forms of print reading such as newspapers, books, magazines, etc. are being replaced with websites, electronic books, and ezines. This shift of reading methods has resulted in an increased demand for optimized legibility. Lupton (2004) noted "the rise of the Internet as well as cell phones, hand-held video games, and PDAs have insured the continued relevance of pixel-based fonts as more and more information is designed for publication directly onscreen" (p. 27).

There have been many studies that have focused on the legibility of print (Jha & Daftuar, 1981; Mansfield, Legge, & Bane, 1996; Roethlein, 1912; Sanocki, 1988; Woods, Davis, Scharff, 2005) which have resulted in recommendations for different types of printed material. Unfortunately there has not been much research investigating onscreen legibility. Chaparro, Shaikh, and Chaparro (2006) studied the onscreen legibility of six ClearType™ typefaces, developed by Microsoft, which take advantage of sub-pixel rendering. This study found that two of these typefaces (Cambria and Constantia) were more legible than the popular Times New Roman.

Some suggestions have been made as to what specific features of a typeface contribute to the legibility of the characters themselves. Each character is made up of certain attributes (see Figure 1) that distinguish it from other characters within the same typeface and from the same character in other typefaces. These differences are often very subtle but contribute to the overall theme of the typeface. Few empirical studies have been done to determine how these features influence legibility."    (Continued via SURL, Usability News)    [Usability Resources]

Designing Characters - Usability, User Interface Design

Designing Characters


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