Author Topic: Request for comments on striped background formatting  (Read 3141 times)

GarryP

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Request for comments on striped background formatting
« on: October 20, 2013, 04:17:11 pm »
Hello all.

I'm experimenting with a new publication that is for screen reading only and would like some feedback from the community.

In the images attached are the originally formatted text and then the same text with a striped grey background.

My question is: "Which do you think is easier to read and why?".

Any comments on this issue would be appreciated.

I'd be particularly interested if anyone can point me to any (academic) research on making text - either on screen or in print - more readable.

Thanks in advance, Garry.

Nermander

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Re: Request for comments on striped background formatting
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2013, 08:59:10 am »
I think the stripes makes it harder to read. It kind of interrupts the flow.

The eyes track the stripes, but the stripes extend beyond the line length so the text gets "chopped" by my eyes following the stripes.

I think the typographic rule is to use leading (line spacing) and font size to give the reader "lines" of text to follow instead of drawn lines.

Striped background can be useful for tables, where it might otherwise be hard to follow the "lines"

GarryP

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Re: Request for comments on striped background formatting
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2013, 02:31:46 pm »
Thanks for your comments Nermander.

Personally I agree with you. I wouldn't like to read a lot of text formatted this way but it can be useful for code snippets and, as you say, tables of data. (I can remember reading through reams of printed computer code/output on the old green-lined paper and it was useful there.)

I think I also understand what you mean by the text getting "chopped". To me it looks like there is some text missing from the "gap" at the end of the lines and it's confusing.

I'd be happy to hear any other comments about this, especially from people who have dyslexia or another reading difficulty, but any opinions are welcome.

My reason for trying this was to look for a way to help dyslexics read lines of text without skipping down lines - which is one of the problems they have - while keeping the text readable for everyone else without the "technique" getting in the way. (Again, I'd appreciate anyone pointing me to a web resource - that is readable by the layman - about this sort of thing.)

Like I said, this is just an experiment, and I'll probably not be using it in the real world but it's an interesting subject - to me at least.

So if anyone else has anything to say about it, please do so.

Nermander

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Re: Request for comments on striped background formatting
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2013, 04:06:28 pm »
Ah, well, in such cases it might be useful, I don't know much about what can help people with reading problems. I've mainly learned just "normal" typography'.


GarryP

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Re: Request for comments on striped background formatting
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2013, 04:52:45 pm »
I understand.

I thought about mentioning reading problems at the start but then I thought I'd keep it "open" to try and get comments from a larger set of people.

It's good that you replied as I was hoping to get comments from people who don't have reading difficulties. Sometimes something that makes it easier to read for some can make it more difficult for others.

For instance, some web sites have an "accessibility" feature that makes everything really big and black and white which might be great or some but it hurts my eyes to read it (then again I'm not the target audience for that feature). But with PDFs you're generally stuck with one format so it has got to be more "generalised".

The more I read about the issues of readability the more I realise I didn't know much about it.

Nermander

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Re: Request for comments on striped background formatting
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2013, 08:36:15 pm »
There's also readability and readability.

You wont use the same kind of text for a warning sign as for a novel.

GarryP

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Re: Request for comments on striped background formatting
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2013, 02:36:15 pm »
Yeah. (Unless you don't like your readers!)

And I couldn't even guess at the number of books that talk about typeface choice but all that I've seen only spend a tiny amount of space regarding "readability" - or whatever I mean by that.

Most of each book is about style and what looks good with what. (And some of the advice seems to be outdated now given what I've seen in recent magazines.)

And none, that I've looked at so far, have mentioned reading/visual impairment more than briefly stating things like: "some people have difficulty reading text that blends into whatever is behind it", and basics like that.

Anyway, I'll leave the post open - like I've got any choice? - in the hope that someone can point me in a good direction.