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Thursday, January 13, 2011

The BBC Today programme, flowery fonts and getting a message across.

In the midst of the predictable diet covered by the BBC’s Today programme, there are some occasional gems. One such thread today, covered the idea that font style has an impact on a reader’s ability to absorb information. Not rocket science perhaps, but the conclusion is worth discussion.

Intuitively, one assumes that an easier font, makes for an easier read and more information absorbed. Interestingly, Today’s interview with Jonah Lehrer suggested the reverse ie more flowery styles are a challenge to the reader, who has to raise his/her concentration levels and accordingly takes in more of what is written. Elaborate styles may be an irritation but they stimulate the cortex.

Of course in our five second culture, this assumes that the reader wants to read said content in the first place. Assuming they do, there are lessons here for the politician drafting an electoral leaflet, the business crafting its corporate blurb, a student in education or the Kindle reader at home.

As use of e-book readers and the digital world expands, we are going to be hearing hear a lot more about font style.

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