Readability - What is readability?
The readability of text is determined by the quality of its content and its visual appearance. In other words, for text to be considered “readable” it must be composed in a way that is easy to read and understand AND created visually in a manner that is easy to read, whether the text has been handwritten or printed.
In terms of printing and labelling, it is the latter definition that is relevant, as the face materials, coatings, and inks and toners used when printing can all influence the readability of printed text. Readability is determined by both the properties of the printed text and the background onto which the text is printed, which means readability can be influenced by the printing materials used (inks or toners) and by the finish of the face material (and any coatings that have been applied). For example, if similar colours are used for the text and the background, then the text will be harder to read than if a dark colour had been used for the text and a light colour had been used for the background. Similarly, if the background has a high gloss finish, it may be difficult to read text that has been printed in a light colour. Printing inks are available in both opaque and translucent forms, with opaque inks standing out much more clearly from their background than translucent inks.
It should be noted that readability is different to legibility, which refers to the ease with which individual characters can be read and distinguished from one another. Legibility is primarily influenced by the typeface used, although the face material, coatings, and printing materials can also contribute towards the legibility of printed text as they do towards its readability.Go Back to Glossary