Principles of Print Accessible Design

(Highlights from RGD Ontario's ACCESS-ABILITY: Design Accessibility Conference)

10 simple rules to consider in your design

  1. Contrast
    • Use high contrast colours for text and background.
    • Good examples are black or dark blue text on a white or yellow background, or white/yellow text on a black/dark blue background.
  2. Type Colour
    • Printed material is most readable in black and white.
    • If using coloured text, restrict it to things like titles, headlines or highlighted material.
  3. Point Size
    • Bigger is better. Keep your text large, preferably between 12 and 18 points, depending on the font (point size varies between fonts).
    • Consider your audience when choosing point size.
  4. Leading
    • Leading is the space between lines of text and should be at least 25 to 30 per cent of the point size.
    • The is lets readers move more easily to the next line of text.
    • Heavier typefaces will require slightly more leading.
  5. Font Family & Font Style
    • Avoid complicated or decorative fonts.
    • Choose standard fonts with easily-recognizable upper and lower-case characters.
    • Arial and Verdana are good choices.
  6. Font Heaviness
    • Opt for fonts with medium heaviness and avoid light type with thin strokes.
    • When emphasizing a word or passage, use a bold or heavy font. Italics or upper-case letters are not recommended.
  7. Letter Spacing
    • Don't crowd your text: keep a wide space between letters. Choose a monospaced font rather than one that is proportionally spaced.
  8. Margins & Columns
    • Separate text into columns to make it easier to read, as it requires less eye movement and less peripheral vision.
    • Use wide binding margins or spiral bindings if possible.
    • Flat pages work best for vision aids such as magnifiers.
  9. Paper Finish
    • Use a matte or non-glossy finish to cut down on glare.
    • Reduce distractions by not using watermarks or complicated background designs.
  10. Clean Design & Simplicity
    • Use distinctive colours, sizes and shapes on the covers of materials to make them easier to tell apart.