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Designing documents for print

Make your print documents accessible and easy to read.

This content has been adapted from ‘Guidelines for Producing Clear Print’ by Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities Inc. 

Body type

The  minimum body type size recommended is:

  • 12 point for a general audience
  • 16 point for people with vision impairment/low vision, or with a learning disability.

Fonts and typefaces

  • Use a strong sans-serif font, such as Arial.
  • Avoid highly stylised or simulated handwriting and typefaces.
  • Use a typeface that makes numerals distinct.

Avoid using:

  • typefaces with light weight options because there is less contrast between the paper and text 
  • italics, which can make text difficult to read for some people
  • all capital letters in words. The human eye reads by recognising the shape of words and a word in all capitals interferes with this recognition
  • underlining.

Layout

Use plenty of white space around text and images and separate the different elements of the page.

Text and line spacing 

  • Line length should be about 60 characters. 
  • Left-align text and avoid justified text.
  • Words should be evenly spaced.
  • To accentuate pieces of text, use white spaces or boxes.
  • Leave a space between paragraphs for ease of reading.
  • Line spacing should be 1.5x and at least twice the space between words.
  • Make sure there is a strong contrast between the text and the background.

Images and other design elements

  • Avoid using text over images or patterned backgrounds.
  • Avoid using colour shading and screens that reduce the contrast between text and background.
  • Avoid fitting text around images if this means lines of text start in different places and are difficult to find.
  • Avoid using watermarks in the background of content, such as ‘draft’ and ‘confidential’. Instead, signal these clearly on the front page and include them in the running header or footer.
  • Allow extra space/widely spaced lines on forms for people to write on or for signatures.
  • Make sure page numbers are in the same place on each page.

Paper

  • Use matte or satin paper rather than glossy paper.
  • Use paper of enough weight so the print does not show through on the other side.

Binding

  • Print documents should open flat.

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