Readability refers to the ease of understanding due to the construction of the text, including the length of words, sentences, paragraphs and the “style of writing.” The style of text is decided by the specific choice of words, consistency, and expressions. Abstract words, jargon, long and complex sentences, and passive constructions, may obstruct reading and understanding of the text content. Furthermore readability refers to the reader’s reading skill and interest and how easy it is to read long passages of text.
An easily comprehensible text is characterized by short sentences, short words, and simple sentence structure. Text should be concise, consistent and precise.
Readability of Print Media
Texts for information materials must have good readability. Language as well as the style should be correct to avoid distracting the readers. The information designer will have to:
- Use an active voice and avoid too many details.
- Use a style guide and make the message understandable for the intended receivers.
- Make an overall check of language, writing style and terminology before the script can be finalized as an original.
Active, affirmative, clear, declarative, essential and short words in simple, short and precise sentences are the most readable. People may avoid materials that they find difficult and pompous (showing off). Readers prefer small text paragraphs to big ones.
Readability of Text on Wall Charts
A wall chart must have good readability. The information designer should:
- Edit the text into sections that are easily read.
- Check the spelling!
- Use headings and other text elements in a consistent way.
Readability of Text on Screens
For graphic presentations on computers terminals the information designer should:
- Display data so that it is easy to read.
- Recognize cultural differences.
- Use a “normal” combination of upper and lower case letters.
All Capital letters, caps, are harder to read than a “normal” combination of upper and lower case letters. Words become difficult to read which will reduce the speed of reading.
Readability of Projected Texts
In verbal presentations, many of the overhead transparencies, slides, filmstrips, and projected computer presentations consist mainly, or sometimes only of text. In preparing the material the information designer should:
- Consider the use of lists.
- Be careful in the use of acronyms.
- Restrict stylized and fancy typefaces to opening frames.
General design rules should be employed also in the design of projected texts. We should not display frames longer than it takes to explain the contents. Always restrict the number of words. Text transparencies are useful for the speaker but may be very boring to the audience. It is also very boring when there are simply are too many spelling mistakes. Check the spelling once more.