Boost Comprehension with Embellished and Difficult Fonts

I can’t stop trying to imagine a reason why so many ads are created using text that is ALL IN UPPERCASE. AND THEN THEY MAKE A PARAGRAPH OR TWO AND ACTUALLY EXPECT THAT THEIR BMWs OR MERCEDES ARE GOING TO ROCKET OFF THE CAR LOTS.

Is it just me or does it take you a long time to read that? I actually find myself visually backtracking over letters.

Why do they do it? Marketers, creative directors, designers….the elusive they.

I started thinking this: maybe my actions of visually backtracking over letters and words is precisely what they are after. There is recent evidence to suggest that “hard to read” fonts can actually boost learning and comprehension (called “disfluency).

Publishing ideas in a hard-to-read typeface may make concepts harder to learn but easier to retain, according to a new study by researchers from Princeton University and Indiana University.

BUT, I think to myself after cogitating on this,  that may work in a classroom where students have no choice but to read the material presented. What happens to that evidence once choice and level of effort are calculated into the mix?

Italicized Text

Is this italicized text slightly more difficult to wrap your eyes around? If so it could explain why installing it strategically in simple web copy could be just enough of a speed bump to boost your comprehension of an idea or message; used to indicate something potentially a bit more important.

Use of Bolded Text

And then in some situations when you might benefit from trying to call out an important data element or the one phrase that could carry your idea, a bolded phrase could boost engagement  and improve comprehension and retention of key ideas. Perfect for content-snackers or when your copy might only be seen briefly, or is in motion.

But everything in moderation. That’s an old adage that holds true for everything, including not-so-readable or embellished fonts.

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