Has any font been proven, in an academically sound manner, to be particularly easy for those with dyslexia to read and as such would be a good choice for any screen text product created with dyslexic users in mind?

"Easy" would be defined as quick to interpret, as in fast to read and understand.

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    Candidly, I've had a fair few dyslexic people tell me they found Comic Sans rather readable. Note that this is completely anecdotal. – Dirk v B Jan 20 '15 at 23:15
  • As far as I know, no, there is no definitive 'proof' that there is one 'most dyslexia friendly' typeface. What is much more important is the overall typesetting. – DA01 Jan 20 '15 at 23:19
  • @DA01 that sounds like the making of an interesting answer – Toni Leigh Jan 20 '15 at 23:22
  • Sadly it is true, Comic Sans is distinctly easier and used widely in the UK education system. – JamesRyan Jan 21 '15 at 16:35
  • re: comic sans ... on this site I'm about as interested in artistic sensibilities as I am in how hard it would be to actual implement the most usable solution :-) – Toni Leigh Jan 21 '15 at 18:54
up vote 59 down vote accepted

No - there is no "friendly font" for all. Dyslexia is not a hard and fast condition. Different people who are dyslexic will exhibit differently. As a result a particular font that helps one individual does not necessarily help another.

io9.com actually has a recent article which cited several studies on the subject: A Special Font to Help Dyslexics? More Like Snake Oil.

Renske de Leeuw wrote a Master's Thesis ("Special Font For Dyslexia?") in 2010, comparing the "Dyslexie" font with Arial. The conclusion read, in part:

The results indicated that neither the dyslectics nor the normal readers did increase their reading speed significantly while reading the words on the EMT and Klepel with the font “Dyslexie”.

Luz Rello & Ricardo Baeza-Yates did another study in 2013 ("Good Fonts for Dyslexia") looking at multiple standard fonts and the "dyslexic friendly" font "Open Dyslexic". Among multiple variables, the study looked at participant preferences for the different fonts -- which found Open Dyslexic at the very bottom.

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The article also calls out Chuck Bigelow, a MacArthur Fellow renowned for his creation of the Lucida typeface family, in making the following statement in a post "TYPOGRAPHY & DYSLEXIA":

In the scientific literature, I found no evidence that special dyslexia fonts confer statistically significant improvements in reading speed compared to standard, run-of-the-mill fonts.

Bigelow does call out certain elements of typography, distinct from types designed specifically from dyslexia, that are worth investigation. They are listed in the article linked above, with associated studies. These elements include:

Going back to the first point - these elements may help some people more than others. There is no magic bullet that is shown to improve the reading of the dyslexic population at large.

  • You may want to mention that full justification seems to be problematic for many if not most dyslexics. Something about the "rivers" of white space it produces tends to lead them astray. – dfeuer Jan 21 '15 at 4:34
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    I would only add @dfeuer's suggestion if you can find solid citation for it. This is a great answer for how solidly it backs up its statements; don't mar it by adding in something you can't be sure of. This is a field with a lot of claims and relatively less hard research. Bravo for finding some, frustrating though its conclusions be. – KRyan Jan 21 '15 at 4:46
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    I realize this adds no value whatsoever, but god, that Open Dyslexic font is hideous... – Janis F Jan 22 '15 at 12:26
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    @bigstones it may sound plausible but its completely wrong. Reading rate is limited by the understanding of what the words are about not how quickly you recognise the word itself. – JamesRyan Jan 23 '15 at 10:27
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    In these studies speed is measuring how quickly the participant recognizes the word. Subjects are not given sentences to pull meaning from, they are given words. Speed and fixation (another metric used) along with subjective measures can be very telling. – Evil Closet Monkey Jan 23 '15 at 14:30

I don't know which fonts are best, but I would recommend trying out a few with the person affected. I have had a some experience working with dyslexics and found trying different coloured papers to print on very effective. Blue was often found to improve visibility.

  • Red text is the hardest to read. I was told this many moons ago, and have found it to be true, over the years. Unfortunately, I don't have any academic links to back this up. – Greenonline Feb 12 '16 at 4:54

I know this question is old, but for anyone interested Comic Sans MS is widely considered a more dyslexic friendly font than others, though it's certainly not perfect and won't necessarily be best for everyone. The way that the letters are shaped so that they are very distinctive supposedly helps.

Here's a link to a BBC article that kind of mentions it: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-11582548

This website discusses the appropriateness of different fonts in regards to dyslexia: http://www.dyslexic.com/fonts

Hope this helps!

  • Welcome, and thanks for sharing this! It would be useful if you summarized the information on the dyslexic.com page rather than just linking to it. The page has some general principles and lists a number of common fonts alongside comic sans. – octern Mar 15 '16 at 11:02
  • Comic sans is used with kids because of the soft crayon-like shapes, and because it uses an italic undercase a instead of a roman. forums.createspace.com/en/community/servlet/JiveServlet/… It has little to do with how unique every character is, and more with simplicity. Your other link lists Century Gothic for example, which is very geometric and has super repetitive (semi)circles. – PixelSnader Mar 15 '16 at 12:44

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