Readability: Robin Williams' take

Subject: Readability: Robin Williams' take
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2000 08:43:50 -0500

Jennifer Mueller reports that <<In her book "The Non-Designer's Web Book",
Robin Williams differentiates between readability and legibility. She says
that readability refers to how easy it is to read a lot of text, and that
serif fonts are more readable for print and lengthy web pages. She says the
legibility refers to how easy it is to recognize short bursts of text, such
as headlines, signs, buttons, etc, and says that in print and on screen,
sans serif fonts are more legible.>>

Which only goes to prove my point: Whatever Williams' merits as a _graphic_
designer, she demonstrates little or no knowledge of human factors (also
called _information_ design). Readability is more about comprehension than
it is about typeface design; legibility is more about the distinctiveness of
individual letterforms. An illegible document is unreadable, but even a
highly legible document can be unreadable if the text is poorly written or
outright gibberish. A highly legible typeface can improve readability
compared with a less legible typeface, but only if the text itself is of
good quality. The relationship between the two factors is complex, and
Williams tends to trivialize it more than I'm comfortable with.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Hofstadter's Law: The time and effort required to complete a project are
always more than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's

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