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Deyue Yu, Emily Watson; Letter recognition in different fonts. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1170. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.1170.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Reading performance can vary markedly with font. Mansfield and colleagues (1996) showed that people with low vision read faster in Courier than in Times, especially at small print sizes. Here, we assess single-letter recognition in different fonts, and explore whether the font effect starts to emerge at the stage of letter recognition. Twenty-five normally-sighted young adults identified single letters at 10deg eccentricity left and right of the fixation. Three fonts were tested: Courier (monospaced, serif font), Times New Roman (proportionally spaced, serif font) and Century Gothic (proportionally spaced, sans-serif font). A letter size of 0.4° (defined by x-height) was used. For a given font, each of the 26 lowercase English letters was presented ten times at each testing position. The data were collapsed across the two testing positions and 25 subjects (a total of 500 trials per letter) to construct a confusion matrix for each font. We found that accuracy of letter recognition was always highest for Courier (82%), intermediate for Times New Roman (75%), and lowest for Century Gothic (71%). The pattern of confusions also varied with font. The comparisons among the confusion matrices provided valuable information on what and how letter features contribute to letter recognition. For instance, letter "e" was often reported as "c" for Times New Roman font (45%), but not for Courier (1%) and Century Gothic (2%). Letter "w" was frequently reported as "v" for Courier font (42%) but rarely for Times New Roman (2%) and Century Gothic (1%). Letter "a" was often reported as "o" for Century Gothic font (45%) but hardly for Times New Roman (< 0.5%) and Courier (2%). Our findings suggested that the font effect emerges early in text processing. These results also provided insights on how to design or select font for better reading performance.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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