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How People Read > Pattern Recognition Helps People Identify Letters in Differen...

15. Pattern Recognition Helps People Identify Letters in Different Fonts

People have been debating which fonts are better, easier to read, or most appropriate for centuries. One such debate centers around the use of two types of fonts: serif versus sans serif. Some argue that sans serif typefaces are easier to read because they are plain; others contend that serif fonts are easier to read because the serifs draw the eye toward the next letter. In fact, research shows no difference in comprehension, reading speed, or preference between serif and sans serif fonts.

People identify letters through pattern recognition

How is it that you can recognize all of the marks in Figure 15.1 as the letter A?

Figure 15.1. We can recognize many variations of a letter


You haven’t memorized all of these versions of the letter A. Instead you’ve formed a memory pattern of what an A looks like. When you see something similar, your brain recognizes the pattern. (See the discussion of geons in the chapter called “How We See” for more information about how we recognize shapes.)



  

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