May 24, 2013
Enough with the Saccades Already

This is my first ever letter to the editor, in this case of the New York Times on line. Write one of your own. It’s fun!

Once again you are experimenting with centered body text. Why? Did some design school graduate with limited experience of actual reading decide that it looked cool? Cool or not, the point of type is to be read. The question of readability has been studied for centuries, with the result that 99.9999 percent of body text more than a few lines long is left-aligned today. Large blocks of centered text look attractive only to nonreaders, which is not your target demographic. Neither is graphic designers, so listen instead to anyone with the most elementary knowledge of typography.

Having different starting points for each line makes a reader’s eyes jerk back and forth in random, confusing, and irritating leaps called saccades. For more on this, type “typography centered text” into Google. Don’t bother scrolling past the first window in search of opposing views. Unlike climate warning and evolution, this question is not disputed even by fools. The whole typographical world is in agreement that a barrage of saccades will cause even lifelong readers such as myself to say the hell with it, and subscribe to the New York Post. At least Rupert’s crap is legible.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at May 24, 2013 01:52 PM
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Centered text is at least as irritating as having a long string of text all printed on the same line. I refuse to read any of it.

Posted by: Phil on May 24, 2013 10:11 PM
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