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Rhythm and Legibility

There seems to be enough evidence that there is a relation between different typefaces and legibility. It would be of huge interest to understand the underlying factors. Reading has been thoroughly studied in terms of how language is processed in the brain but reading scientists care mainly about what happens cognitively. When people see fonts and words, they are barely aware of the sensory aspect (perception and transformation of the visual stimuli). This talk will explain the various types of rhythm within type design and link these to legibility insights.

These days rhythm within typefaces is treated very homogenous. The perfect example is the currently dominant early 20th century letter model where all the letters within a font get roughly the same width. But how does this movement affect legibility (normal and poor readers)? The lecture will offer more insight into how rhythm within type is related to legibility, comfort and spatial frequencies.

Presented by Ann Bessemans at ATypI Barcelona 2014


Ann Bessemans

Prof Dr. / Researcher + teacher READSEARCH

Prof. Dr. Ann Bessemans is a legibility expert and award-winning typographic and type designer. She founded the READSEARCH legibility research group at the PXL-MAD School of Arts and Hasselt University where she teaches typography and type design. Ann is the program director of the international Master program ‘Reading Type & Typography’. Ann received her PhD from Leiden University and Hasselt University under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Gerard Unger. She is a member of the Data Science Institute UHasselt, the Young Academy of Belgium and lecturer at the Plantin Institute of Typography.

Instagram @pxlmad (institution)