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Guidelines for producing Readable, Accessible Onscreen Text

Some brief guidelines about creating readable, accessible electronic text are given below, but much more information about eBooks and electronic text can be found at

Programming documents using HTML/XML is probably the best way of insuring that you have the greatest degree of control over the format of the text that you produce and it is not necessarily difficult to convert documents to a readable accessible format. Essentially, you need to consistently structure your document and convert it to HTML including a style sheet that will format your text to maximise readability and accessibility. There are several suitable style sheets with guidance about how to use them on the website above. You are free to copy these and use them if you wish. However, you may also wish to modify these or develop others of your own. Accordingly, we have also included some detailed guidelines relating to the creation of style sheets to insure readable, accessible text.

Overall Recommendations for Readable/Accessible Web Page Design

• Use sans serif typefaces Trebuchet, Tahoma and Verdana are recommended for large text based documents.
• Use relative font sizes which render smoothly
• Do not use more than three fonts/sizes at maximum.
• Avoid justification.
• Use blank lines to end paragraphs.
• Reduce line width to approximately 60 characters.
• Use extra wide margins. Use indentation tab to control paragraph margins, not the block quote tag, text readers will read the paragraph as a quote.
• Set vertical spacing in cascading style sheets to 130%-150%.
• Always use logical/structural tags to control markup and organise a page’s content. Use style sheets to control presentational markup.
• Use a colour scheme with high contrast preferably black on white for text or pale blue on yellow. In general use colour sparingly and appropriately.
• Avoid visually taxing, chaotic, competing presentations of content

Author: Bruce Ingraham

01 July 2004

VLE: All



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