Whether you’re a web designer or a content writer, creating legible, readable content is key to online success. After all, if website visitors are struggling to read your content in one way or another, then they likely won’t be back for more. But here’s the problem: many people think these two terms mean the same thing, which can get in the way of optimizing your content effectively. So, if you’re wondering about the difference between legibility vs readability, you’ve come to the right place!
In this article, we’re going to discuss legibility and readability. We’ll talk about what they are, how they differ, and give you some tips on improving both in your own content.
What Is Legibility?
Legibility isn’t about the content of a text - it’s about how the text looks. If your article is legible, it means that your readers can easily distinguish and recognize the different characters and words in your sentences.
One of the most important elements of legibility has to do with glyphs. In typography, a glyph refers to the unique shape and design of each individual character. So, in the case of content writing, a glyph is most often a letter. And as you may imagine, readers need to be able to tell one letter from another if they’re going to read your content properly.
What Is Readability?
Readability, on the other hand, is about the appearance and the content of an article. A readable piece of content is easy for your audience to read and understand.
With readability, one of the most important things to keep in mind is your audience. What’s considered readable to one group of people may be too complex for another, so you need to tailor your content accordingly.
What’s the Difference Between Legibility vs Readability?
The main difference between legibility vs readability is this: if your text isn’t legible, your audience can’t read it. But if your text isn’t readable then your audience won’t read it. Why would they stick around to read something they can’t understand?
This means that the responsibility of creating legible content is on the web designer, or whoever is publishing content online. They need to choose the right font size and style, for example, to ensure that readers can easily see and read the content.
But when it comes to readability, the content writer plays the most important role. They need to present their research, thoughts, and/or opinions in a way that makes sense to their audience, so they can get the information across most effectively.
How to Improve the Legibility of Content
There are a few different elements that you should consider if you want to improve the legibility of your content. Let’s explore some of the most important factors below.
Also known as corpus size, x-height has to do with the height of a lowercase x from top to bottom. The idea is that the taller the x, the easier it is to read - at least, up to a point. You want to find a happy medium for the best legibility.
A font with an extremely light or heavy weight is often difficult to read. So, as with x-height, you want to aim for something in the middle when it comes to legibility.
Letter spacing, or kerning, is about the distance between letters. If your letters are too close together or too far apart, it can hurt your legibility. You’ll need to find that sweet spot to make improvements here too.
How to Improve the Readability of Content
As with legibility, there are a variety of things you can do to improve the readability of your content. Let’s now shift our attention to some of the most important readability factors.
Use Short Sentences
Long, convoluted sentences can be difficult to understand. So, try to use shorter ones whenever possible. A general rule of thumb is to stick with only one idea per sentence.
Use Short, Common Words
Few people are breaking out 5-syllable words on a regular basis! If you want people to understand your content, then stick with the kinds of words that you’d hear in everyday conversation.
Take Advantage of Readability Tools
One of the best ways to improve your readability is to take advantage of online tools. Originality.AI’s readability checker, for example, will identify the long sentences and words in a text for you. You can then skim through and change things where needed, improving your readability and cutting down on your editing time overall.
It will even put your content through various readability tests and calculate your scores. So, whether you prefer to follow the Flesh-Kincaid, Gunning Fog Index, or one of the various others, you’ll know exactly where your content stands against the most reliable readability tests around.
Legibility and readability may be different concepts, but they’re both essential to creating effective content for your audience. Your text needs to be legible so your audience can read it, and it needs to be readable so they can understand it.
So, the next time you sit down to write some content, be sure to incorporate our tips on improving its legibility and readability. Your most effective piece of content ever may be just around the corner!