Typeface, Serifs and Sans Serifs and reading Comprehension, Preference, Motivation and Performance.
As stated by (Oberoi, 2013), typography can be referred to as an emotional, personality and dramatic means that complements the printed material; it conceals the information registered in the mind of the reader making it easier to comprehend. Typefaces and fonts happen to fall under typography where typeface is a family of fonts made up of a collection of symbols, characters, letters and numbers that share the same design whereas font is a typeface set in a specific size, weight and style. An example of a font is Baskerville Old Face Bold at 11 points.
The interaction of typefaces is keen to the simplicity with which text is read. It is more comfortable when the typeface is reader-friendly and takes into consideration the design of the type which includes the thick and thin strokes; and the x-height, which considerably differs from typeface to typeface affecting the appearance of the type by making it look bigger or smaller (Oberoi, 2013).
Some important elements under typography are serifs, sans serifs, scripts and decorative typefaces (Oberoi, 2013). Most typefaces for children are sans serif. Serifs have minimal upshot on legibility in adult readers as shown in Visual psychophysical studies (Arditi & Cho, 2005), and studies in children concur (Walker & Reynolds, 2003, 2004).
It has been argued by Burt (1959) and others that serif typefaces, which have small extensions at the end of a letter, are not just decorative, but have a definite role to play in telling apart individual letters and numbers. Serifs are used to lead the eye in a horizontal stream. The unavailability of serifs is said to lead to a vertical stress in sans serifs which is considered to compete with the horizontal stream of reading according to (De Lange et al., 1993). Serifs cannot in any way be said to “lead the eye”. In 1878 Professor Emile Javal of the University of Paris established that the eyes did not proceed along a line of text in one smooth sweep, but in a series of quick lurches which he referred to as “saccadic movements” (Spencer, 1968, p. 13 ; Rayner & Pollatsek, 1989, pp. 113-123).
It is often claimed that reading large amounts of body text set in sans serif causes fatigue, but there is no evidence to confirm this, as measuring fatigue has not been a concern in the vast majority of legibility research comparing serif and sans serif typefaces. Furthermore, “no satisfactory objective method of measurement has been devised. Subjective assessments of fatigue are subject to change by a great many factors which may be completely unrelated to the experimental situation”. (Reynolds 1979, p313).
Typefaces with larger x-heights are largely read with ease than those with short x-heights, and this is particularly true for children (Strizver, n.d.). The height of the lower case ‘x’ in a typeface is referred to as the X-height and is frequently the better indicator of the apparent size of a typeface than point size (Poulton, 1972; Bix, 2002). Encouraging a large x-height helps typefaces to have a greater relative area within the physical structure of their letterforms such as ‘e’ and ‘c’ which has been set up to increase text readability in some fields (e.g. Burt1959, Tinker 1965). This may be particularly important for children since they often have difficulty discriminating between letters that are standardized in appearance (Watts and Nisbet 1974). to 1974). Consequently, researchers (e.g. Labuz 1988) have pointed out that a typeface’s x-height is often a better determinant of its true or `readable’ size than its point size. Other factors such as stroke thickness, counter size and x-height are likely to deliver a far larger result in keeping the overall identity of a letter form, whether it be through smearing or size reduction (Poulton, 1972; Reynolds, 1979).
Walker and Reynolds (2003, 2004) have argued that the two-story adult forms of ‘a’ and ‘g’ are familiar to children who have begun to read and may be preferred to the infant forms because they are less confusable.
Getting young readers to actually read body text and interact with the document is a tiresome and a challenging project for educators if the text is well-thought-out as not readable and unattractive (Sassoon 1993). Thus, it is important that children’s text is not just readable and perceived as such, but also appealing to read.
Reading comprehension is the ability to read a text, process it and interpret its substance. An individual’s ability to comprehend text is determined by their behaviour and skills, out of which the body infers (“Reading Comprehension”, n.d.). The readability of a textbook is influenced by words per minute, a number of regressions, the second length, and fixation time. (Screws, 2016). Subject fields, like those done by Morrison and Noyes, have demonstrated that in some cases Serif fonts perform better than their ornate counterparts. They ascribe this to the possibility that the serifs on the font add a more distinct end to each letter, allowing the reader to quickly discern the final stage of each letter and permit for increased fluidity while reading.
Motivation to practice is a central component of learning to read. It is doubtful for a child to be a fluent reader without developing the keenness to practice. As affirmed by (Thiessen, Dyson, 2010), children, at a tender age, have indicated that they have clear views about the typography in their reading books and that these views may influence their motivation to choose the actual reading material (Walker and Reynolds, 2002/03; Reynolds and Walker, 2004; 2006).
There are six factors that influences the motivation of readers as asserted by Turner and Paris (1995) and they are Choice (to make available dependable choices and drives for reading), Challenge (Allow students to modify tasks so the difficulty and interest levels are challenging), Control (Show students how they can control their Learning), Collaboration (Show students how they can control their Learning), Constructing meaning (Emphasize strategies and meta-cognition for constructing meaning) and Consequences of the task (Use the consequences of tasks to build responsibility, ownership, and self-regulation) (Reutzel, 2008).
Printed text, in determining a child’s reading performance and attraction to text, has certain features such as the size, shape and weight of a particular letter form, as well as its line and character spacing. Unfortunately, a few number of pragmatic studies have established these factors as they relate to elementary school children (Watts and Nisbet, 1974).
Investigation shows that text affects reading performance of elementary school-age children by examining the actual and perceived readability of some typefaces at 12- and 14-point sizes (Screws, 2016).
Legibility goes with comprehension hence if the text is legible enough considering the size of the font and the design of the typeface like the thick and thin strokes, the x-height and the leading and kerning of the face is evenly spread (mine).
Among the aforementioned elements of typeface, decorative and script are normally not found in books typeset for children’s reading. This is then because the letters have connections linking each other making it difficult for the early readers to distinguish the letters faster and thus causing a retardation in reading speed, comprehension and performance. (mine)