Plain fonts easier to read

Researchers at the University of Michigan have found, unsurprisingly perhaps, that the more difficult instructions are to read, the more challenging the task seems

Researchers worked with 20 students who were each given the same instructions for an exercise routine printed in two different fonts. One was in Arial, an easy to read sans-serif font, and the other in Brush, a script font.

They were asked to estimate how long the routine would take, and were given a seven-point scale to rate the following: how quick it would feel, if it would flow naturally, drag on and feel boring, and how likely they were to incorporate it into their daily routine.

The findings, which were published in the October issue of the journal Psychological Science, revealed that participants viewed the exercise, when provided in the Arial font, as feeling quicker and easier to include in their daily routine.  As for time, they thought the exercise in Arial would take 8 minutes, but in the Brush font, 15.

Identical instructions were also given for making sushi to 27 men and women, in both easy and difficult-to-read fonts. They perceived the recipe in the plainer font would take less time to make and were more inclined to prepare it than the same recipe in the other font.

So, there we have it.  Instructions should be written in plain English — and in a plain font, too.