Readability vs Legibility - what's the difference? Legibility can be defined as: 'handwriting or print that is clear enough to read' where as readability can be defined as: 'the ease with which text can be read and understood'. Legibility.and readability are fundamental to successful typographic design. Often the terms are used interchangeably. Yet, there is a difference between them.
LegibilityLegibility is concerned with how easy it is to distinguish individual letters. The simpler a type design is, the more legible it is. So why do less-than-legible typefaces even exist? Because typeface designers love to create unique and distinctive designs, of course. While it is generally better to always choose a legible type, there are times when distinctiveness may be more important than legibility. For example, when selecting a font for a unique and distinctive company logo. More often than not it is wise to use a legible typeface, the six mentioned by Vingelli are all legible and readable to a certain degree, however the bolder Sans Serifs tend to be a lot more legible as they are simpler to read as headings and titles.
There are three design features that make a typeface legible:
1. Large X-Height:A large x-height increases the negative space within each letter. This makes it’s shape much more discernible.
2. Large Counters:
The negative space within a letter is called a counter. When a typeface has large counters, it is easier to distinguish the shape of each individual letter
3. Simple Letter forms: .
Sans serif types are generally more legible than their serif counterparts because they do not have any serifs interfering with the shapes of the letters. However, this does not mean that sans serifs are necessarily easier to read in text. Actually, serif types are generally considered more readable. The exception to this rule is on-screen. Because of on-screen distortion, sans serif is the best choice for readability. Some common typefaces which meet these three criteria are: Helvetica, Novarese, New Century Schoolbook, Cheltenham, Times Roman, Gill Sans, and Baskerville.
Readability refers to the ease with which a reader can scan over paragraphs of type. In other words, how easy it is to read! While legibility is basically dependent on the typeface design, readability is dependent on the manipulation or handling of the type. A highly legible typeface can be made unreadable by poor typographic design. Factors which affect readability include: line lengths, point size, leading, typeface selection, spacing, type alignment, and background.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to readability is the fact that ninety-five percent of what we read is in lowercase letters. Not only are we much more used to reading them, but they also assist us because they create a recognizable shape (coastline). Words in capital letters have no distinctive shape (or coastline), so if you want design to work avoid using sequences of upper case letters.
One of the most unreadable combinations is using capital letters and a typeface with reduced legibility. Using a script typeface in capital letters is definitely a big no-no.