Readability Wiki

Readability Wiki is a community wiki hosted by Readability Matters, a nonprofit organization with the mission to engage an ecosystem of partners to deliver personalized reading environments, empowering everyone everywhere to achieve more.

 

Overview


It’s all about the Reader.

“Readability” encapsulates those properties of a document that determine the ease and success with which individual readers decipher, process, and make meaning of the text read. While this may involve aspects of the document’s content, structure, or layout more generally, our focus is on the text’s typographical features, including font choice, size, spacing, and related attributes.

Reading material delivered in a one-format-fits-all model has been the norm for centuries on paper and decades electronically. Reading is fundamentally changing as more moves from printed (and therefore fixed) text to digital text. Personalization is now possible.

Strong readers and struggling readers, adults and children, all have the potential to experience improved reading outcomes using a technology-enabled model of reading with personalized text formats.

We must shift the focus from what is best for the population to focusing on what is best for the individual. To achieve a vision of improved Readability for All, an ecosystem of partners–tech, publishers, academia, non-profits, educators, and policymakers–must work together to implement ubiquitous solutions.

Learn more:

How to use this Wiki


Our community Readability Wiki aims to provide a snapshot of the work being done across the ecosystem.

  • For Readers: We are just beginning to make reading better for you. But in the interim, learn what you can do today by trying our Tools/Demos and Readability Tech Tips.
  • For Educators: The research is promising; together, we are working to bring a solution to students everywhere. For now, visit our Education section, try our Tools/Demos and visit Readability Tech Tips.
  • For scientists, researchers, and engineers: Read the methods paper. Read our Research section to learn more and join our research community.
  • For typographers and designers: Learn why it is imperative to move from a one-size-fits-all model to one personalized for the reader. Watch Adobe MAX and Skoll World Forum videos listed in the Videos and Podcasts section.
  • For Tech and Publishing companies: Learn more about The Readability Consortium, and review the Research, Business Impacts and Implementing Readability sections. Begin to add Readability Features to your reading apps and websites.

Tools/Demos


Learn more about how Readability can improve your reading–read more quickly, more accurately with greater comprehension. Enjoy reading more.

  • The Readability Sandbox. Read more about the Readability Features Sandbox. Try the Alice in Wonderland Sandbox or World Education Change Agent Sandbox. (Github Apache License 2.0)
  • 5-minute Reading Tests. The Virtual Readability Lab is a virtual platform that allows adults to participate in 5-minute reading tests. These tests determine the font or character spacing that helps readers read faster or enjoy reading more. Read more. Visit the lab and take the 5-minute tests and find what works best for you! Learn more.
  • Readers, What Can You Do Today? Reading apps are evolving rapidly. Readers can visit Readability Hacks to learn what major reading app providers (Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and more) are delivering today and what Readability Features you can adjust.
  • A Reading Controls Prototype was developed by Adobe. More information is coming soon.

Across the Ecosystem


A cross-disciplinary approach is key to shifting the focus from what is best for the population to focusing on what is best for the individual. Findings from this research will apply to the design of better reading tools and better reading experiences for everyone.

Awards & Recognitions

Conferences & Events

Videos & Podcasts

Learn more about Readability with highlighted YouTube channels, videos and playlists, and podcasts.

YouTube Channels and Playlists
Videos
Podcasts

The “Podcasts” section is a stub. You can help Readability Wiki by expanding it.

The Creative Educator. Reinventing How We Read.  Host: Tacy Trowbridge (Adobe). Speakers: Ben Sawyer (UCF), and Zoya Bylinskii (Adobe).The Creative Educator. Listen here. AUG 2022

Articles & Blogs

See what is happening across the readability ecosystem.

Medium: The Readability Tech Channel is a publication of the ecosystem working to deliver the next generation of personalized reading interfaces.

In The News

  • Personalized Fonts Speed Up Reading, Maintain Comprehension. (2022, July 7). Com. Read here
  • Reading Skills: Individual Prescription. (2022, June 28). Medical Breakthroughs. Ivanhoe Broadcast News. Read here
  • Milvionne, C., & Ivanhoe Newswire. (2022, June 9). Prescriptions for reading? Using vision science to get you to read faster, better. Channel WJXT. Read and watch here.
  • Fluckinger, D. (2022, May 31). The Readability Consortium’s lessons for marketing content. TechTarget. Read here.
  • Nielsen, J. (2022, April 24). Best Font for Online Reading: No Single Answer. Nielsen Norman Group. Read here.
  • LaBarre, Suzanne (2022, May 3). Are fonts ageist? Fast Company. Read here.
  • Ghosh, S. (2022, February 16). Adobe, Google and UCF Join Forces to Launch the Readability Consortium. AiThority. Read here.
  • Hurt, A. E. (2021, November 29). Want to improve your reading skills? You might just need more space. Science News for Students. Read here.

Research


Readability is a complex research field requiring a multidisciplinary approach– touching upon engineering, physiology, neuroscience, psychology, social science, education, and many more fields. Prior research focused on what was best for the populations. We suggest a shift to evaluating how small changes to text format on an individual impact reading speed, accuracy, and comprehension.

Findings from this research will apply to the design of better reading apps and websites, creating reading experiences for everyone.

Research Community

New Research Methodologies

In 2021, twenty-eight different authors—from around the world and across many disciplines—collaborated to author a 60+ page intro to Readability research toward the goal of accelerating best practices and methodologies. Readability Research: An Interdisciplinary Approach paper is available on arXiv. Read more.

Monthly Research Sync

Researchers monthly attend a virtual “brown bag” to discuss current research and readability topics of interest. Read more about the community. Contact us at [email protected] to join our brown bag and dedicated Slack Workspace.

The Readability Consortium

The mission of The Readability Consortium (TRC) is to enhance digital readability for all. The consortium membership steers collaborative research, the creation of open-source tools for the growing readability community, and the development of big data around digital reading.

The Consortium is part of The University of Central Florida Research Foundation, guided by a board of industry and non-profit members. The founding organizations were Adobe, Readability Matters, and the University of Central Florida (UCF), with Google joining in February 2022. (Read more by members Adobe, Google, Readability Matters, and UCF.)

To join the consortium, contact the director, Dr. Ben D. Sawyer, at [email protected].

Research Toolkit

Led by The Readability Consortium, the goal is to create open-source research tools, the largest open dataset of digital reading behavior ever assembled, and open standards for readability on digital devices.

The Virtual Readability Lab (VRL) is a new platform containing several essential building blocks to engage users interested in self-paced studies. The VRL includes 5-minute tests on reading speed and font preference. It also includes a test for users to find their optimal character spacing. The VRL platform architecture allows readability researchers to develop tests by using a unified database and building on current and future modules that passively track human behavior to study reading behavior in the wild. Make use of the free Virtual Readability Lab toolset for testing reading populations. Contact Dr. Ben D. Sawyer at [email protected] for more information.

Readability Matters developed and made available the open-source Readability Sandbox. The Sandbox uses variable fonts to allow users to explore standard readability features such as font, size, character spacing, character width, font weight, line spacing, column width, and background color. Researchers can leverage this code for their testing purposes. The code is available on GitHub with an Apache License 2.0.

Open-source Reading Controls Prototype: More information is coming soon.

Big Data

Researchers, engineers, designers, and others interested in developing tools for improving readability need to study reading across many populations, including diversity in age, reading skill level, pre-existing deficits, and other participant characteristics. Larger sample sizes can produce a more robust statistical distribution and easier-to-spot outliers.

With leadership by Dr. Ben D. Sawyer, director of the Virtual Readability Lab at the University of Central Florida and The Readability Consortium, the goal is to create the largest open dataset of digital reading behavior. There have been more than 10,000 adults participating in readability tests. Research with K-12 populations is now underway.

Highlighted Research

Readability research highlights are available on Readability Matters Research and  The Readability Consortium Research website pages. Contact us ([email protected]) to add your research.

Academic Publications
Academic Conference Presentations
  • Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR). Read more. July 13-16, 2022
    • The Effect of Individualized Font Formats on Reading Speed and Comprehension for Students in Grades 3-8, Presenting Author, Dr. Stephanie Day (University of Central Florida), Thursday, July 14, 11:40 am
    • Influences of Font Format on Reading Comprehension: Implications of Font Personalization in K-8 Students. Presenting Author, Dr. Shannon Sheppard (Chapman University), Saturday, July 16, 11:50 am
  • CHI’22: ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Session: Vision. Towards Individuated Reading Experiences: Different Fonts Increase Reading Speed for Different Individuals. Presenting Author: Shaun Wallace (Brown University). Watch Presentation
  • Journal of Vision. Individual Differences in Font Preference & Effectiveness as Applied to Interlude Reading in the Digital Age. Journal of Vision, 20(11). Presenting Author: Shaun Wallace (Brown University). Watch presentation

White Papers

Implementing Readability


The “Implementing Readability” section is a stub. You can help Readability Wiki by expanding it.

To move to implementation, there is a need for further research, standards development, and investment by education, industry, government, and policymakers.

The Readability Blueprint

We call on our ecosystem partners to develop a readability blueprint that will help tech, edTech, and publishers to add the options for readers to personalize their reading text formats.

Want to help create this blueprint? Contact [email protected] to participate in this community-wide project.

Infrastructure Components

  • Readability Matters has developed and made available the open-source Readability Sandbox. The Sandbox uses variable fonts to allow users to explore standard readability features such as font, size, character spacing, character width, font-weight, line spacing, column width, and background color. Researchers can leverage this code for their testing purposes. The code is available on GitHub with an Apache License 2.0.
  • Variable Fonts. Variable Fonts is Collaboration between Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, and Google was added to the OpenType® specification in 2016. OpenType® 1.8 made it possible to have many fonts in a single file, also known as variable fonts. This format allows the different properties to vary on single or multiple axes with extreme instances at the ends. This flexibility can enable engineers and designers to be more in control of the magnitude of each font variable. See Additional Resources: Variable Fonts to learn more.

Diagnostics

The ultimate goal is to build a diagnostic tool that allows individuals to identify their best reading format. The ultimate goal is to create a digital token that loads a reader’s unique “Personalized Reading format (PRF) highly-specific reading preferences into popular software systems.

Research is critical to getting it right. Researchers are studying many diagnostics techniques, including online reading tests, eye-tracking, scrolling, and fluency. Additionally, researchers are evaluating using Machine Learning algorithms to detect reading habits with other technologies and artificial intelligence. The goal is to create a better reading experience.

Open Source Diagnostics Tools

The Virtual Readability Lab is a virtual platform that allows adults to participate in 5-minute reading tests. These tests determine the font or character spacing that helps readers read faster or enjoy reading more. (Github Apache License 2.0)

Additional Resources

This “Additional Resources”  sub-section is a stub. You can help Readability Wiki by expanding it.

Variable Fonts

Google Fonts is a library of open-source font families and APIs for convenient use via CSS and Android.

Read More
Watch Videos
  • Google’s Tobias Kunish, Sehee Lee, and Michael Gilbert discuss variable fonts, typography, and the research Google is doing to improve readability. Watch here.
  • Google’s Dave Crossland and Dr. Hilary Palmén present a Lightning Talk about the “Importance of Variable Fonts in Improving Readability.” Watch here.

Business Impacts


The “Business Impacts” section is a stub. You can help Readability Wiki by expanding it. 

The move to more digital workplaces offers new opportunities to improve employee and customer reading experiences. Applications in verticals such as finance, medical, defense, cyber, and more offer business efficiencies and improved accuracies.

Implementation: Business

Tech Companies

Some technology companies offer readers to personalize their reading experiences. See The Readability Aa Report to learn more.

Adobe

After investing in research and development, Adobe added Reading Settings to allow readers to personalize their reading experience. Adobe unveils ambitious multi-year vision for PDF: Introduces Liquid Mode. Adobe is the first technology company to offer granular character spacing.

Let us know if you see a reading or learning app that allows readers to personalize their text formats.

Implementation: Publishing

Some publishers offer readers to personalize their reading experiences. See The Readability Aa Report to learn more.

Let us know if you see a reading or learning app that allows readers to personalize their text formats.

Education Impacts


The “Education Impacts” section is a stub. You can help Readability Wiki by expanding it.

Technology provides an opportunity for personalized learning, which moves from a one-format-fits-all approach to one tailored for the student. Children learning to read and older students reading to learn benefit from using apps and websites that enable the reader to personalize their text format. They can instantly improve their speed, accuracy, and comprehension.

Some edTech and publishing companies offer readers to personalize their reading experiences. See The Readability Aa Report to learn more. Let us know if you see a reading or learning app that allows readers to personalize their text formats.

Implementation: K-12

The Challenge

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) measures reading levels for a sample of students nationwide. Experts consider the test highly reliable. Recent results (4th, 8th, and 12th grades) show that since 1998 reading scores remain relatively flat, with  just over one-third of students reading at a level the NAEP defines as “proficient.” The pandemic has caused even more significant reading gaps. More here.

Research

Research in K-12 populations will inform the design of better learning environments.

  • Stephanie Day conducts the TRC readability education research in K-12 populations. Research is underway, with pilot data being collected and presented at the SSSR conference in July 2022.
  • A recent study by Dr. Shannon Sheppard, Dr. Susanne Nobles, and Dr. Sofie Beier looked at the impact of text formats on comprehension in K-8 students. Results will be presented at the SSSR conference in July 2022. Watch Susanne Nobles’ Lightning Talk.
Reading and Learning Apps

Some edTech and publishing companies offer readers to personalize their reading experiences. See The Readability Aa Report to learn more. Let us know ([email protected]) if you see a reading or learning app that allows readers to personalize their text formats.

Implementation: College

The Challenge

In higher education today, students access materials for learning in a variety of formats, from print textbooks to e-books and PDFs. Given the importance of digital environments for delivering core college course material, we must consider ways that students can read deeply in online environments.

Research
Instructor’s Guide

Engaging and Motivating College Student Readers through Customizable Reading Text Interface. Dr. Jenae Cohn (Stanford University), Marjorie Jordan (Readability Matters), and Kathy Crowley (Readability Matters). JUL 2020. Read more and request the paper.

Reading and Learning Apps

After investing in research and development, Adobe added Reading Settings to allow readers to personalize their reading experience. Adobe unveils ambitious multi-year vision for PDF: Introduces Liquid Mode. Adobe is the first technology company to offer granular character spacing.

The PreTeXt authoring platform plans to enable readability features by summer 2022. There will be more information available soon.

Some edTech and publishing companies offer readers to personalize their reading experiences. See The Readability Aa Report to learn more. Let us know ([email protected]) if you see a reading or learning app that allows readers to personalize their text formats.

Implementation: Adult Literacy

The Challenge

A new study by Gallup on behalf of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy finds that low levels of adult literacy could cost the U.S. as much as $2.2 trillion a year. Read more.

Reading and Learning Apps

Adobe added Reading Settings to allow readers to personalize their reading experience. Adobe unveils ambitious multi-year vision for PDF: Introduces Liquid Mode. Adobe is the first technology company to offer granular character spacing.

Some edTech and publishing companies offer readers to personalize their reading experiences. See The Readability Aa Report to learn more. Let us know ([email protected]) if you see a reading or learning app that allows readers to personalize their text formats.

Directory


Learn more about the organizations working to bring Readability For All in our community blog post.

The Readability Ecosystem

Technology and Publishing Companies
Non-Profits
  • The EdTech Center at World Education. The EdTech Center is creating a world in which every learner and teacher has access and skills to use digital solutions and technology tools. The team helps to identify, design, implement, evaluate, and promote best practices in leveraging technology responsibly to accelerate impact.
  • Readability Matters. Working with an ecosystem of partners, Readability Matters advocates for new models of digital reading.
Research

Organizations participating in readability research.

The Readability Consortium and The Virtual Readability Laboratory at the University of Central Florida are rethinking how information flows from human to machine and back. Under the leadership of Dr. Ben D. Sawyer. Dr. Stephanie Day conducts readability education research in K-12 populations. Read more about the VRL researchers.

Social Media

Follow for more updated information:

Contribute to the Wiki


Help Build our Readability Wiki 

We welcome contributions. Contact us at [email protected] to add content, provide feedback or report a problem.

Support Readability Work


Readability for All! 

Make all readers the best reader they can be. Help us bring personalized reading to the world!

Thanks to the generous support of donors, Readability Matters is able to ignite research and work with tech and publishing companies to expand readability offerings. Readability Matters is a registered non-profit 501(c)3 organization (EIN: 83-4462479).

  • To volunteer, contact us at [email protected].
  • Visit our Donate page or find us on employee portals Benevity and Bright Funds to donate.

Keywords


Digital, document, individuation, information processing, literacy, personalization, preference, readability, reading, technology, text, typography, variability


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