Researchers at MIT’s AgeLab finally have proven what designers have long suspected: Some typefaces are easier to read than others. Because this would be a boring message, and because the New England University Transportation Center and typeface vendor Monotype were also involved in the study, the researchers put it in context with in-dash menus. And came to the conclusion that the choice of typeface is a matter of life and death.
A white paper released recently reports about two studies which found that the Eurostyle typeface commonly used in many vehicle device displays takes more time to read than the more elegant “humanist” style typeface. The blockier Eurostyle was traditionally preferred in electronic display because it did not break up as easily at lower resolutions.
Among men, a “humanist” typeface resulted in a 10.6% lower visual demand. To make it, um, more eye-catching, researchers said this “difference in glance time represents approximately 50 feet in distance when traveling at U.S. highway speed.” Which, says IT World could be the difference between a close call and an injury — or worse.
Oddly enough, the “impact of different typeface style was either more modest or not apparent for women,” says the study.