Readability is primarily the concern of the typographer or information designer. It is the intended result of the complete process of presentation of textual material in order to communicate meaning as unambiguously as possible. A reader should be assisted in navigating through the information with ease, by optimal inter-letter, inter-word, and particularly, inter-line spacing, coupled with appropriate line length and position on the page, careful editorial “chunking,” and choice of the text architecture of titles, folios, and reference links. Case, whether capital or lowercase, may be pivotal, given the loss of legibility with the use of all caps. However, frequent use of the all-caps style implies that many designers are unaware of the issue.
Characteristics of readability
Readability also may be compromised by letter-spacing, word spacing, or leading that is too tight or too loose. It may be improved when generous vertical space separates lines of text, making it easier for the eye to distinguish one line from the next or previous line. Poorly designed typefaces and those that are too tightly or loosely fitted also may result in poor legibility. Underlining also may reduce readability by eliminating the recognition effect contributed by the descending elements of letters.
Purpose of a style guide
By formulating a style guide, a publication (or website) standardizes with a relatively small collection of typefaces, each used for specific elements within the publication, and makes consistent use of typefaces, case, type sizes, italic, boldface, colors, and other typographic features such as combining large and small capital letters together. Some publications, such as The Guardian and The Economist, go so far as to commission a type designer to create customized typefaces for their exclusive use. Different periodical publications design their publications, including their typography, to achieve a particular tone or style.
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