An Innovative Methodology

In 2014, Monotype, in collaboration with the MIT AgeLab, developed a new, streamlined methodology for testing the legibility of typefaces on screens under glance-like conditions. Using the new methodology, typeface legibility results correlated with those of the 2012 research (Dobres, Chahine, Reimer, Mehler, Coughlin, 2014).

The new approach used a word recognition method to create a more flexible, cost- and time-effective way for designers to test specific typeface legibility under glance-like behavior — and help OEMs such as automotive manufacturers and HMI designers select a legible typeface for in-vehicle displays.

This psychophysical method was adapted by the research team to investigate subtle aesthetic properties of typographic and graphic design by employing a relatively pure measurement of legibility. It focuses on the typographic variables affecting legibility and using a standard desktop computer rather than a driving simulator, reducing the complexity, administration time, and data processing and analysis costs required to study various ways in which typographic information is displayed.

To test the accuracy of the new methodology, the team looked at both black-on-white text as well as white-on-black text.

“While more work needs to be done, the research team believes the use of word recognition tests could be further adapted to investigate a wide range of questions relevant to typographic and graphic design in automotive HMI designs. This research can be easily expanded to other languages and scripts,” said Monotype’s Dr. Nadine Chahine, a legibility specialist, award-winning typeface designer and one of the 2014 report’s co-authors and principle researchers of the project. “The findings also suggest that the methodology could be suitable for various glance-based reading environments; not only for automotive displays but for medical apparatus, smartphones and other devices.”

For more information, please contact:
MIT Agelab:

Jonathan Dobres, Nadine Chahine, Bryan Reimer, Bruce Mehler, & Joseph Coughlin. 2014. Revealing Differences in Legibility Between Typefaces Using Psychophysical Techniques: Implications for Glance Time and Cognitive Processing. Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab.