Does increased letter spacing alter perception of word shape?

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Offline thedoc

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Wilf James  asked the Naked Scientists:
Dear Chris,

I was very interested to hear that dyslexics find it easier to read with letters more widely spaced than usual.

I can't remember when it was or who it was who published some comparable research on ordinary reading ability many years ago.

The critical aspect of that report was that ordinary readers don't read letters, they recognise word shapes.

The report said that reading upper and lower case words like this was easier than reading words IN BLOCK LETTERS LIKE THIS.

I know that when I mistype words when writng with a computer like this, I can see errors quite easily because the words look wrong.

I don't know if increased letter spacing would make word shape recognition more difficult or not. I do know that familiarity with a typeface has some effect.

I would be interested in your comments.

Wilf James

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 20/07/2012 22:30:01 by _system »


Offline Atomic-S

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I had an aunt who, when presented with a message in which tHe CaSe oF tHe lEtTeRs wErE AlTeRnAtEd lIkE ThIs, found it very difficult to read, even though she was fine with all upper or all lower. I am not quite sure what to make of that observation.


Offline evan_au

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Most early computers used a fixed-pitch font (like today's "Courier" font).

For most people, the Apple Macintosh was the first introduction to proportional fonts on a computer screen. These fonts do make words easier to read for most people - more like reading a newspaper.