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Location: Bellevue, Washington, United States

Nathan is both a writer and designer of books and eBooks and is part-owner of boutique publisher Long Tale Press, LLC. He is available to help make your eBook or Book publishing project come alive with great book design.

Friday, October 08, 2004


Here’s an issue that seems to rile up everyone from Bill Gates to my daughter’s grade school teacher. What makes a document readable? Where’s the hard science that backs up the big assertions for readability? Is there any way to adapt documents to different reading environments and maintain good readability?

Okay, so that’s an issue that we can and will talk about for about 30 postings as I’ve been trying to make sense of it for 8 years now and still don’t have all the answers. (Maybe a few, but not all.) So maybe the best thing is to state some common assertions and see if there is hard science to back any of them up.

  1. Serif type is easier to read than sans serif.

  2. 65 characters is the optimum line length.

  3. Paginated content is easier to read than scrolling content.

  4. Colored type draws attention.

  5. Type on a colored background needs to be bigger.

  6. Screens won’t be easy to read on until they have a resolution of 300 pixels per inch.

  7. Lettersize or A4 is the most readable page size.

Well, that will give us something to work on for a while. I’m sure we’ll find some other assertions floating around eventually. Do you have any? Or comments on these? I’ll investigate them in future posts, but not necessarily in this order.


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