A dozen simple ways to improve readability

Why is some copy read and other copy ignored?

Good writing and editing matter—a lot…

However, there are things you can do to make your copy easy on the eyes—and the brain—and dramatically improve the chances that your copy will be read.

  1. Use short, easily understood words.
  2. Use short sentences. Run-on sentences are hard to follow. Break them into multiple sentences.
  3. Keep paragraphs short. When encountering at a long paragraph or a sea copy, the reader subconsciously, says “maybe later” and moves on.
  4. Add space between paragraphs.
    Break up the large chunks of copy with subheads, pull quotes or graphics. This give the eyes and the brain a much needed “breath” between sections.
  5. Use a short line lengths (no more than 5 inches wide) to help the eye find it’s way from the end of one line to the  beginning of the next.
  6. Upper and lower case letters are far easier to read than all caps.
  7. Beef up the leading (aka line spacing). Often software will default to +2 points of leading. (A 10 point font has 12 points of leading.) Try bumping it to 14 or 15 points for easier reading.
  8. Left justified type is easiest to read.
  9. Use script fonts and display fonts (the quirky ones) sparingly as they are often hard to read. Skinny (condensed) fonts are also harder to process.
  10. Avoid using large amounts of light type on a dark background. This tends to “sparkle” and quickly causes eye fatigue.
  11. If your audience has young eyes, body copy should be no smaller than 9pt.
    If your audience is middle aged, body copy should be 10pt. And if your audience is elderly, consider going larger.
  12. Black type on white paper is contrasty and can be hard on the eyes. Reducing the contrast by using gray type OR by adding a soft tint of color to the background can help reduce the eye strain.