Highlights of Colin Wheildon’s Research on “How Typography and Design can get your Message Across—or get in the Way”

  • Headlines set in all-capital letters are up to 37% less readable than those using lower-case type.

  • Black headlines are understood by nearly four times as many readers as headlines set in color.

  • Slightly condensed headline type—between 70% and 90% of natural width—is easiest to read.

  • Headlines that end with a period probably reduce readership.

  • Body Copy set in serif type is more than five times likelier to be comprehended than copy set in a sans-serif face.

  • Black text will be understood by seven times as many readers as text set in color.

  • Boldface text will cut reader comprehension by more than 50%.

  • White text on any background color will lose practically all readers.

  • Surprinting black text on a gray background will attract readers, but their comprehension will suffer if the background strength exceeds 10%.

  • Justified text pays off handsomely. Compared to ragged-right text, almost twice as many readers will understand it. Seven times as many readers compared to ragged-left copy.

  • Text Measure strongly affects readability. Wheildon’s research showed that 38% of readers found text set at more than 60 characters to the line hard to read. And 87% had trouble with lines of less than 20 characters.

  • Subheads, especially in long copy blocks, were found useful by 78% of the readers Wheildon studied.

  • Optimum type sizes according to Wheildon’s research are in the range of 10 point on an 11-point body to 12 point on a 14-point body. About 75% of people found those sizes easiest to read.

  • Color generally increases the cost of an advertisement by 20%—or somewhat more—but 63% more people notice the ad.

  • Photographs were recalled more clearly than illustrations by more than half the people Wheildon studied.

See also:

Graphics and Typography Homepage

Advertising Copy Home Page

Marketing Tactics Home Page

Marketing Home Page

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