Text

Summary

Whenever you create text, make sure that it is equally accessible to sighted users, users with low vision, and users who can not see the text at all. Factors that contribute include:

  • Font type and style
  • Text alignment
  • White space

Impact

Impact

Many studies of online reading have found that web users typically scan online text rather than read every word. 

Presenting a “wall of text” in a digital document or webpage can discourage reading and prevent understanding, much like the meaningless lorem ipsum dummy text below.

Dos and Don'ts

Dos and Don'ts

Expand all

Use Legible and Readable Fonts and Font Styles

How you display digital text impacts both the accessibility and usability of your content.

Your text should be both:

  • Legible: An ergonomic term that refers to whether it’s physically possible to read the text
  • Readable: Easily understood

Do

Use sans-serif fonts for body text. They are more suited for screen reading. 

Use serif fonts for printed documents.

Use standard fonts, such as Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Tahoma, and Verdana. Users are more familiar with standard fonts and can thus read them faster, and those with low vision can read the information more easily.

Use mixed-case text.

When emphasizing text, use a key word like “Note” or “Important” in addition to bold or underlined text.

Strive for plain and simple language rather than verbose and complex.

Don't

Don't use fonts that are hard to read.

Don't use more than three fonts in a document or webpage.

Avoid using all-caps or all-lower case text.

Avoid using italics.

Align Text Appropriately

The way text is aligned impacts its accessibility and usability. Justified text is more difficult to read because of extra space between the words. Centered text is challenging for readers with dyslexia because of the jagged way in which it moves the eye around the text.

Do

Left-align text in most instances.

If you are writing in a language that is written from right to left, use right-aligned text.

Don't

Don't justify text.

Avoid centered text.

Use White Space and Headings for Scannability

Scannability means that the reader can quickly scan down the page to find out what it contains. Scannability is enhanced when

  • Headings are appropriately formatted and descriptive
  • There is adequate space between paragraphs of text
  • White space is used effectively. White space draws the user’s eye to the text and helps to offset large amounts of text. This can be helpful for readers with dyslexia and visual processing difficulties, as well as many other people.

Do

Leave ample margins to the left and right of your text.

Choose uncluttered layouts that include no more than three columns.

Experiment with line heights and paragraph spacing to find the right balance of text to white space.

Write shorter sentences and paragraphs.

Use appropriately formatted and descriptive headings.

Don't

Don't alter text character spacing to fit in more text, or it may be difficult to scan.

Follow Core Skills Dos and Don'ts

Do

No matter what technology you use to present your digital text, follow the core skills of accessibility.

How-to

How-to