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The effects of age, viewing distance, display type, font type, colour contrast and number of syllables on the legibility of Korean characters

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This study evaluated the effects of age (20s and 60s), viewing distance (50 cm, 200 cm), display type (paper, monitor), font type (Gothic, Ming), colour contrast (black letters on white background, white letters on black background) and number of syllables (one, two) on the legibility of Korean characters by using the four legibility measures (minimum letter size for 100% correctness, maximum letter size for 0% correctness, minimum letter size for the least discomfort and maximum letter size for the most discomfort). Ten subjects in each age group read the four letters presented on a slide (letter size varied from 80 pt to 2 pt). Subjects also subjectively rated the reading discomfort of the letters on a 4-point scale (1 =  no discomfort, 4 =  most discomfort). According to the ANOVA procedure, age, viewing distance and font type significantly affected the four dependent variables (p < 0.05), while the main effect of colour contrast was not statistically significant for any measures. Two-syllable letters had smaller letters than one-syllable letters in the two correctness measures. The younger group could see letter sizes two times smaller than the old group could and the viewing distance of 50 cm showed letters about three times smaller than those at a 200 cm viewing distance. The Gothic fonts were smaller than the Ming fonts. Monitors were smaller than paper for correctness and maximum letter size for the most discomfort. From a comparison of the results for correctness and discomfort, people generally preferred larger letter sizes to those that they could read. The findings of this study may provide basic information for setting a global standard of letter size or font type to improve the legibility of characters written in Korean. Statement of Relevance: Results obtained in this study will provide basic information and guidelines for setting standards of letter size and font type to improve the legibility of characters written in Korean. Also, the results might offer useful information for people who are working on design of visual displays.
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Keywords: Korean character; Number of syllables; age; display type; font type; viewing distance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Systems Management Engineering, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Korea 2: Department of Safety Engineering, Hankyong National University, Ansung, Korea 3: Department of Industrial and Information Systems Engineering, Ajou University, Suwon, Korea 4: Department of Occupational Health, Catholic University of Daegu, Gyeongsan, Korea

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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