Typography Annotated Bibliography

  • Bernard, M., Liao, C. H., & Mills, M. (2001). The effects of font type and size on the legibility and reading time of online text by older adults. In CHI ’01 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Seattle, Washington, March 31 – April 05, 2001). CHI ’01. ACM Press, New York, NY, 175-176. 1-4.
    Abstract (provided by author): This study examined passages containing two serif and sans serif fonts at 12 and 14-point sizes for differences in legibility, reading time, and general preference when read by an older population. A significant main effect of size was found for font legibility in that 14-point fonts were more legible to read than 12-point fonts. A marginal interaction was also found for reading time in that participants read 12-point serif fonts significantly slower than 14-point serif or sans serif fonts. Moreover, participants significantly preferred the 14-point to the 12- point font size. Font recommendations are discussed.
  • Beymer, David, Orton, Peter, Russell, Daniel (2009). “An Eye Tracking Study of How Font Size and Type Influence Online Reading.” British Computer Society. 1-4.
    Abstract (provided by author): In order to maximize online reading performance and comprehension, how should a designer choose typographical variables such as font size and font type? This paper presents an eye tracking study of how font size and font type affect online reading. In a between-subjects design, we collected data from 82 subjects reading stories formatted in a variety of point sizes, san serif, and serif fonts. Reading statistics such as reading speed were computed, and post-tests of comprehension were recorded. For smaller font sizes, fixation durations are significantly longer, resulting in slower reading – but not significantly slower.  While there were no significant differences in serif vs. san serif fonts, serif reading was slightly faster. Significant eye tracking differences were found for demographic variables such as age group and whether English is the subject’s first language.
  • Billings, S. (2009, January 8). Reverting to type. Design Week, 16.
    Abstract (provided by author): After decades of sans serif ubiquity, the serifed font is making a spirited return. It’s a good example of how typographic trends shift with other elements of visual culture.
  • Brumberger, E. (2004). The rhetoric of typography: effects on reading time, reading comprehension, and perceptions of ethos. Technical Communication, 51(1), 13-24.
    Abstract (provided by author): In the recent flurry of activity focused on visual rhetoric in technical communication, discussions of typography have largely been left behind. While we have taken significant steps forward in the ways in which we treat design, with greater attention given to theories of design and models of visual communication, typography occupies an infinitesimal portion of that work. Yet, typography is, in a very real sense, the basic building block on which design of primarily verbal texts relies. It also occupies a place that is simultaneously verbal and visual, functioning at multiple levels within a document. Relying on practitioners’ lore and intuition to guide us in our decisions about such a central design element is potentially problematic. This article presents a theoretical and empirical framework for considering the rhetorical role of typography along with the findings of a study that begins to test that framework.
  • Brumberger, E. (2003). The rhetoric of typography: the persona of typeface and text. Technical Communication, 50(2), 206-222.
    Abstract: Explores the development and change of the typeface since the technological boom and how typeface changes a reader’s reaction and perception of a given text.
  • Brumberger, E. (2007). Visual communication in the workplace: a survey of practice. Technical Communication Quarterly, 16(4), 369-95.
    Abstract (provided by author): This article reports the results of a survey of professional writers about the nature and importance of visual communication in their work. The results confirm the suggestions in the field’s literature that visual communication is important to workplace practice and that the role of the professional writer has expanded beyond the domain of the verbal. Visual communication responsibilities are complex and varied, but the practitioners surveyed typically engage in substantial amounts of design-related work and value visual communication abilities. The data suggest that visual communication should be a curricular priority in professional writing programs.
  • Drucker, J. (2008). Letterpress language: typography as a medium for the visual representation of language. Leonardo: International Journal of Contemporary Visual Artists, (41)1, 66-74.
    Abstract (provided by author): Examination which focuses on the formal properties of typography and its capacity to extend the meaning of a written text. Handsetting metal type necessarily focuses one’s attention on the specificity of written language as a sequence of discrete letter. Each has properties of size, weight and shape; and placement and type styles can be widely varied. The technical constraints of letterpress tend to conserve the norm in the representation of language: line after straight line of a single typeface. The author’s intention in deviating from these norms has been to extend, rather than negate or deny, the possibilities of meaning by encouraging plural readings at the levels of the word, the line and the page. Other issues such as the relation of language to experience, to literary tradition or to the social context in which it is produce are investigated.
  • Juni, S., & Gross, JS. (2008). Emotional and persuasive perception of fonts. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 106(1), 35-42.
    Abstract (provided by author): The aim of this study was to explore the latent affective and persuasive meaning attributed to text when appearing in two commonly used fonts. Two satirical readings were selected from the New York Times. These readings (one addressing government issues, the other education policy) were each printed in Times New Roman and Arial fonts of the same size and presented in randomized order to 102 university students, who ranked the readings on a number of adjective descriptors. Analysis showed that satirical readings in Times New Roman were perceived as more funny and angry than those in Arial, the combination of emotional perception which is congruent with the definition of satire. This apparent interaction of font type with emotional qualities of text has implications for marketing, advertising, and the persuasive literature.
  • Oppenheimer, D., & Frank, MC. (2008). A Rose in any other font would not smell as sweet: effects of perceptual fluency on categorization. International Journal of Cognitive Science, 106(3), 1-17.
    Abstract (provided by author) Fluency – the ease with which people process information – is a central piece of information we take into account when we make judgments about the world. Prior research has shown that fluency affects judgments in a wide variety of domains, including frequency, familiarity, and confidence. In this paper, we present evidence that fluency also plays a role in categorization judgments. In Experiment 1, participants judged a variety of different exemplars to be worse category members if they were less fluent (because they were presented in a smaller typeface). In Experiment 2, we found that fluency also affected judgments of feature typicality. In Experiment 3, we demonstrated that the effects of fluency can be reversed when a salient attribution for reduced fluency is available (i.e., the stimuli are hard to read because they were printed by a printer with low toner). In Experiment 4 we replicated these effects using a within-subject design, which ruled out the possibility that the effects were a statistical artifact caused by aggregation of data. We propose a possible mechanism for these effects: if an exemplar and its category are closely related, activation of one will cause priming of the other, leading to increased fluency. Over time, feelings of fluency come to be used as a valid cue that can become confused with more traditional sources of information about category membership.