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Practical, research-based visual tips for developing readable text on panels in exhibitions.

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  • 1. Text in Context Tanya Symons Bredehoft Principal: Artefact DesignTuesday, October 30, 2012Hi, Im Tanya Bredehoft, principal of Artefact Design in Encinitas, CA We are aninterpretive design group. One of our areas of expertise is exhibit design. Artefactplans and designs interpretive exhibitions and materials for museums, aquariums and zoos,nature centers, botanical gardens, and a host of other public venues.

2. Text in Context Easy on the EyesWMA ConferencePalm Springs, California October 23, 2012Tuesday, October 30, 2012Today, Ill introduce you to the visual aspects of text comprehension and walk you throughour typical process for creating readable text. 3. Tuesday, October 30, 2012Lets start with what were trying to accomplish... getting people to read your labels andpanels. Paul talked about how the brain works now lets illustrate the visual processof designing for the brain. Design, and in this context, text design, has a huge impacton how or why we read text. Attracting Attention To be noticed, your panels need tobe saying, HEY LOOK AT ME by creating visual interest 4. Tuesday, October 30, 2012To attract and sustain attention, your panels need to be laid out following good designpractices. The typeface, size, and case must be appropriate to both the subject and thetarget audience. The contrast of the type color on the background, the spacing of theletters, and the length of lines of text all need to be optimized so the content is easy for thebrain to process. 5. Tuesday, October 30, 2012With proper attention to the text design, the content will have a better chance of holding theviewers attention long enough for them to become engaged. 6. Tuesday, October 30, 2012 7. Tuesday, October 30, 2012At every level, the relationship between the labels and the content, and the layout of both,must work together for an engaging experience. 8. Keys to SuccessTuesday, October 30, 2012 9. Keys to SuccessAttracting Attention Through VisualsTuesday, October 30, 2012 10. Keys to SuccessAttracting Attention Through VisualsTYPEFACETYPE CASECONTRASTLINE LENGTHLETTER SPACINGTuesday, October 30, 2012 So lets take a look at the important visual elements of text 11. Keys to SuccessAttracting Attention Through VisualsTYPEFACE - foundational choiceTYPE CASECONTRASTLINE LENGTHLETTER SPACINGTuesday, October 30, 2012The rst step is selecting the typeface or typefaces. Form and function. They need to beattractive to the target audience, include enough variation for heads, bodies, and captions,and be easy for the brain to process. 12. Keys to SuccessAttracting Attention Through VisualsTYPEFACE - foundational choiceTYPE CASE - establishing a uniform standardCONTRASTLINE LENGTHLETTER SPACINGTuesday, October 30, 2012This is about dening what chunks of type may be in all caps, which will be title caps, andwhich will use sentence capitalization. 13. Keys to SuccessAttracting Attention Through VisualsTYPEFACE - foundational choiceTYPE CASE - establishing a uniform standardCONTRAST - is there enough?LINE LENGTHLETTER SPACINGTuesday, October 30, 2012This is about the selection of the color palette. Pretty, daring, or staid may be thestylistic choice. Regardless of the style intent, it is vital to evaluate the proposedcombination of colors of type and background to insure the result is easy-to-processcontent. If there is going to be a problem with the contrast, it can, and should be,avoided very early in the process. 14. Keys to SuccessAttracting Attention Through VisualsTYPEFACE - foundational choiceTYPE CASE - establishing a uniform standardCONTRAST - is there enough?LINE LENGTH - there is always a lot to sayLETTER SPACINGTuesday, October 30, 2012Too many words is typically a problem rather than too few. It is the brain of the audience thatneeds to be accommodated. Long lines of text are more difficult to process than shorterlines. 15. Keys to SuccessAttracting Attention Through VisualsTYPEFACE - foundational choiceTYPE CASE - establishing a uniform standardCONTRAST - is there enough?LINE LENGTH - there is always a lot to sayLETTER SPACING - room to grooveTuesday, October 30, 2012Being too cramped or too loose makes things difficult to read. Both the vertical andhorizontal space of letters, words, and lines must be addressed. 16. Keys to SuccessAttracting Attention Through VisualsTYPEFACETYPE CASECONTRASTLINE LENGTHLETTER SPACINGTuesday, October 30, 2012All design is an iterative process, but taking time to give proper attention to these keys at anearly stage of a project will make it far easier to quickly achieve an engaging result. 17. TypefaceTuesday, October 30, 2012A typeface is a family or group of related fonts which share the same design, varying only inweight, slant, character width, etc. 18. TypefaceSans SerifTuesday, October 30, 2012The most basic category of faces is based on whether or not the letters have serifs. Thisis an example of a san serif face. Nothing but the basic stroke of the characters. 19. TypefaceSerifTuesday, October 30, 2012Here are some letters in a serifed font. Serifs are the details added to the ends of the strokesfor legibility and/or decoration. 20. TypefaceSans SerifTuesday, October 30, 2012Here are three san serif fonts. As you can see, each has qualities, such as the shape ofthe C or the E, which set them apart from each other. 21. TypefaceSerifTuesday, October 30, 2012Here are three serif fonts. As you can see, in addition to each having letter shapequalities which set them apart, each of these also has a different style of serif. 22. TypefaceSans SerifTuesday, October 30, 2012Here are some familiar san serif fonts. Typically, san serif typefaces are good forheadlines and small blocks of text. 23. TypefaceSerifTuesday, October 30, 2012Here are some familiar serif fonts. Typically, serif typefaces are good for use in largerblocks of text. While there are certainly exceptions, books, newspapers, and magazines aretraditionally set using serif type. 24. TypefaceWeightsTuesday, October 30, 2012Here are some familiar fonts in different weights. Selecting the proper weight for aspecic purpose affects both the legibility of your text and the impact you are trying toachieve. Squint your eyes and you can see that weights at both ends of the extremes willrequire careful use to be effective. 25. TypefaceStyle - ItalicTuesday, October 30, 2012Here are the slanted fonts of some familiar typefaces. Typically in panel and labeldesign, slanted fonts should be limited to foreign language words such as scientic names. You should denitely avoid using slated fonts in an attempt to emphasize the meaningof text. 26. TypefaceStyle - CondensedTuesday, October 30, 2012Here are the condensed fonts of some familiar typefaces. Similar to working with fontweights, condensed fonts should be carefully selected and used. You should avoid usingcondensed or compressed fonts to accommodate an overly-wordy chunk of text on a smalllabel. 27. Type CaseTuesday, October 30, 2012Most typefaces that are appropriate for panel and label design have both upper and lowercase characters. 28. Type CaseUppercase TitleTuesday, October 30, 2012Title and headings can be effective when set in all upper case letters. 29. Type CaseLowercase TitleTuesday, October 30, 2012Title and headings can also be effective when set in what is referred to as lower case title. Typically the rst letter of every word, except prepositions and conjunctions, arecapitalized. 30. Type CaseUppercase Body CopyTuesday, October 30, 2012 Pretty much all I have to say about using all caps for body text is 31. Type CaseUppercase Body CopyTuesday, October 30, 2012Dont do it. 32. Type CaseA Good ExampleTuesday, October 30, 2012Here is some effectively set text. The title is Frutiger Bold set in 60 point lowercase title,left aligned. The body is Garamond Regular set in 36 point, sentence text, left aligned withragged right. ---- The peaks and valleys of the upper and lower case letter forms carry theeye along the lines of text. 33. Type SizeTuesday, October 30, 2012 34. Type SizeType HeightsTuesday, October 30, 2012How tall should the type be in which block of text. 35. Type SizeType HeightsTuesday, October 30, 2012This is a rough guide for appropriate type sizes for a few typical viewing distances It isalways a good idea to mock up a few sign types to view in the wild before committing to anynal determination of type. 36. Type SizeType HierarchyTuesday, October 30, 2012This slide shows a mockup of a sign type for testing out in the wild. When planning yourdesign, its important to work out how youre going to identify hierarchy and structure. Howbig or how bold should the title/headline be? What about sub-headings, body copy or gurecaptions? Remember that using different typefaces can help you create distinctionsbetween different text levels. You can combine different typefaces to create both classicaland contemporary layouts. Avoid using too many typefaces. Creating a logicalhierarchy in your designs will make them easier to scan and read. 37. Type ContrastTuesday, October 30, 2012 38. Type ContrastType and Background ColorTuesday, October 30, 2012Always take care to provide enough contrast between type and the background color orimage for legibility. Differences between foreground and background colors on labels orpanels should be exaggerated. Characters and symbols should contrast with theirbackground, either dark characters on a light background or light characters on a darkbackground. A minimum of 70% contrast is recommended. Always check that your colorsprovide adequate contrast when viewed by those who may be color blind. 39. Type ContrastType and Background ColorTuesday, October 30, 2012Placing text over images or patterns forces readers eyes to constantly adjust to varyingcontrasts. Use screens or place text over solid b