High letter stroke contrast impairs letter recognition of bold fonts

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To make graphical user interfaces look more fashionable, designers often make use of high-stroke-contrast fonts. We are yet to understand how these fonts affect reading. We examined the effect of letter-stroke contrast on three bold fonts, one with extreme contrast between thick and thin strokes, one with no contrast, and one in between. The fonts were designed for this experiment to enable control of font variables. Participants identified the middle letter in a lowercase letter trigram in each trial, briefly presented in the parafovea (at 2° left and right of fixation) and at the foveal fixation point. There was evidence for letter recognition impairment for the font with high stroke contrast compared to the fonts with low and medium stroke contrast, while there was no significant difference in performance between the medium- and low-stroke-contrast fonts. The results suggest that bold fonts with high stroke contrast should not be considered for designs where letter recognition is a priority.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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