Typefaces for dyslexia

Which typeface do you use? Why do you like it? Do please tell us.

This page shows more clearly in a Typefaces for dyslexia pdf file. (Thanks to the visitor who pointed out that the fonts needed to be embedded.)

The designers below found that dyslexic readers liked:

 

  • Good ascenders and descenders,
    b, d, f, h, k, l, t, and all capitals; g, j, p, q, y.
  • b and d; p and q distinguished, not mirror images.
  • Different forms for capital I, lowercase l and digit 1.
  • Rounded g as in handwriting. Most liked rounded a, although perhaps some felt that it may be confused with o.
  • Letter-spacing, e.g. r, n together rn should not look like m,
    (if modern turns into modem when scanning or using Text to Speech.)

 

 

We do not know whether any researchers have tested reading speed, accuracy or comprehension with different typefaces; nor, apart from Sassoon and Barrington Stoke, whether they researched for screen or print presentation..

1. Microsoft Office Typefaces.

Arial, Comic Sans, Century Gothic, Verdana, Trebuchet,

2. Free fonts designed for dyslexia.

Lexia Readable, Open-Dyslexic, Dyslexie.

3. Purchasable fonts, specially designed.

Sassoon, for children,
Sylexiad for dyslexic adults.

4. Publisher-only fonts, designed for dyslexia.

Barrington Stoke, for children, Read Regular,

Publishers often ask the British Dyslexia Association which typeface dyslexic people prefer, for PDF files, web and print. For word-processed files on-screen, they can set their own preferences of style, size, colour and background colour, though it may upset the pagination.

Some dyslexic people have expressed strong feelings about typefaces, but there is no agreement apart from saying it should be sans serif. This document and all B.D.A. tech pages are in Verdana.

We asked dyslexia forum members. Only a few people responded. So it may not be a burning issue for most dyslexic people. It is likely that line length, line spacing and font size are just as important. Some loved Comic Sans, but others hated it. Some liked Century Gothic and teachers like purchasable Sassoon. On-screen and print preferences may differ.

The most commonly used fonts come with Microsoft Office. You can download free ones or buy fonts, for printing or for PDF files. However M.S. Word will not retain them for circulation, if the recipients have not got them.


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1. Microsoft Office Typefaces.

It is simpler to keep to sans serif fonts that are in Microsoft Office, though none have all the good points listed above.

The font samples shown here are in 12 point, with identical presentation, but the size, the letter spacing and the line spacing vary considerably.

Arial.

In the early days of home computers, we asked dyslexic people to choose between serif Times New Roman and sans serif Arial. They chose Arial. You can get more on a page, because the letters are too close together! The rounded g is good.

 

  • b, d, f, h, k, l, t, and g, j, p, q, y
  • b, d; p, q
  • Capital I, lowercase l, digit 1.
  • g, a
  • r, n, rn

 

 

Compare: boat, Ill, modern.
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0.


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Comic Sans.

Comic Sans is the most popular Microsoft font for children. However, some dyslexic adults consider it looks childish. It was designed for comic strips. It is not considered professional in the publishing or academic worlds. There is even a ban comic sans web! It meets all dyslexic ‘likes’ except mirrored b and d.

 

  • b, d, f, h, k, l, t, and g, j, p, q, y
  • b, d; p, q
  • Capital I, lowercase l, digit 1.
  • g, a
  • r, n, rn

 

 

Compare: boat, Ill, modern.
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0.


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Century Gothic.

Some dyslexic people like this, perhaps for the roundness of all the letters. It is good that n is not a vertical reversal of u, but in cursive handwriting, u joins from the bottom.

 

  • b, d, f, h, k, l, t, and g, j, p, q, y
  • b, d; p, q
  • Capital I, lowercase l, digit 1.
  • g, a
  • r, n, rn

 

 

Compare: boat, Ill, modern.
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0.


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Verdana.

Verdana is much bigger, at the same 12 point. It does well with  I, l, 1.

 

  • b, d, f, h, k, l, t, and g, j, p, q, y
  • b, d; p, q
  • Capital I, lowercase l, digit 1.
  • g, a
  • r, n, rn

 

 

Compare: Ill, boat, modern.
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0.


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Trebuchet.

This has a ‘double-story g’. It slightly distinguishes  I, l, 1.

 

  • b, d, f, h, k, l, t, and g, j, p, q, y
  • b, d; p, q
  • Capital I, lowercase l, digit 1.
  • g, a
  • r, n, rn

 

 

Compare: Ill, boat, turn.
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0.

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2. Free fonts designed for dyslexia:

Lexia Readable.
Lexia Readable


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Open Dyslexic, Open-Dyslexic, OpenDyslexic.
Open Dyslexic


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Dyslexie.

Christian Boer from Studio Studio in the Netherlands devised the typeface Dyslexie. The University of Twente has done independent research on the typeface. Dyslexie is now free for personal use.
Dyslexie
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3. Purchasable fonts specially designed.

Sassoon.

Rosemary Sassoon designed the Sassoon fonts for print for very young children, not necessarily dyslexic ones, in the late 1980s. Teachers like them. No one suggests them for adults. They have rounded ‘a’ and ‘g’, and non-mirrored ‘b’ and ‘d’. The cheapest package is £28.

“Overall, mainstream and special needs children chose letters with a slight slant, plain (sans serif) tops and exit strokes on the baseline. These help to clump the letters together into words. The added features were clear, open counters and slightly lengthened ascenders and descenders to accentuate the word shape.”

Sassoon


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Sylexiad.

Dr. Robert Hillier, a Senior Lecturer at Norwich University College of Arts designed ‘Rob’s Fonts’. The cheapest package costs £56.

“For the majority of dyslexic readers tested generous word spacing allied to the (light) weight and slightly condensed form (due to long ascenders and descenders) of the Sylexiad fonts were important. This would suggest that for subjects with reading difficulties it is the combination of spacing, weight and overall form of a typeface that is important rather than individual letterform design.” Doctoral thesis 2007. PDF file.


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4. Publisher-only typefaces.

Barrington Stoke books:

Barrington StokePatience Thomson, former head of Fairley House School for dyslexic pupils, was the co-founder of Barrington Stoke publishers.

They produce high interest, easy reading level books by well-known authors, mainly for children, but with some for adults.

The company says that it commissioned a specially designed typeface to expert guidelines, to encourage a smooth read. It is based on the natural style of handwriting.


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Read Regular.

Natascha Frensch, from the Netherlands, is dyslexic. She designed Read Regular while doing a master’s degree at the London School of Art.

It has all the points that dyslexic readers like, but the web forbids copying. It is not available for purchase.

Further information.

There is further information about document presentation in Dyslexia Style Guide on B.D.A web.

Comparison page Typefaces for Dyslexia on Iansyst web.

© B.D.A. New Technologies Committee. December 2014.
Copies of this page may be made providing it is unchanged and the source is acknowledged.

7 Responses to Typefaces for dyslexia

  1. Abbie says:

    They designed it and it fits a need. Obviously, some dyslexic people are asking for it, because two of the designers above are dyslexic! :)

  2. Pingback: » Text/Font/Design Receiving Dyslexia

  3. Pingback: Dyslexia Friendly Fonts.

  4. Dirty Gloves says:

    I have difficulty reading a serif font, even though I am old enough to have most of my early reading experience with a serif font. The serif font significantly slows my reading, makes me have to strain so much that it tires my brain more quickly. Also, straining to just read a serif font makes it more difficult for me to concentrate on the actual material to understand and remember the information.
    I would like to see a clinical study with dyslexic participants and the comparison of sans serif and serif font types. I believe almost every study in this area has not considered the impact of type face for the dyslexic population.

  5. Does the medium that the type of typeface matter? I know for me it is much easier to read serif fonts on a paper medium, but on a computer screen sometimes a non-serif font is much easier to read. Does this factor into the difficulty to read a text for some dyslexic students?

  6. Martina says:

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    Excellent Blog!

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