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U&lc Online Issue: 30.1.1

Designing for Seniors


by Ilene Strizver


For Your Typographic

Like it or not, our bodies change as we get older. For many seniors, with age comes increasing farsightedness, which means difficulty in seeing objects that are close by. Obviously, farsightedness can make reading more challenging.

Senior-friendly design choices will make your typeset copy lead to communication, not frustration. Follow these guidelines to help keep reading a pleasure for your senior audience, and to enhance their understanding and absorption of your message as well.

Use simple, easy-to-read typefaces; avoid hard-to-read scripts and decorative typestyles. Keep the number of fonts per page to a minimum.

Type Size
Choose your text size generously, with extra leading to increase readability. A minimum of 12 point text on 14 points of leading is a good rule of thumb, although exact sizes will vary depending on the typeface.

Text Length
Avoid long blocks of text by breaking copy into smaller chunks wherever possible. Consider using subheads, bulleted lists and boxes to organize content.

White Space
Incorporate lots of white space to reduce eye fatigue. Add space in the margins, between text sections and around graphics.

Use boldface to emphasize a word or a small group of words. Keep use of italics to a minimum; research indicates that italic type is 18 percent more difficult to read than Roman (upright) letters.

Black type on a white or very light background is the most accessible for senior eyes. Avoid reverse or drop-out text, which is more difficult to read. Maintain high contrast and keep medium-value colors to a minimum.

Editor’s Note: Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer and writer specializing in all aspects of typographic communication. Read more about typography in her latest literary effort, Type Rules!, published by North Light Books. This article was commissioned and approved by Monotype Imaging Inc.



Designing for Seniors