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Effects of Font Size, Stroke Width, and Character Complexity on the Legibility of Chinese Characters

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Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing & Service Industries

Published online on


This study investigated the effects of font size, stroke width, and character complexity on the legibility of Chinese characters. A within‐subjects design experiment was employed. Thirty‐six subjects participated in the experiment and completed the character‐search tasks in the pseudo‐texts. The search time per target character, correct response number, and correct response rate were used to measure the legibility. The results indicated that the font size and character complexity had significant effects on the legibility, while the effect of stroke width was not significant. All the two‐way interactions among the three display factors had significant effects on the legibility. Stroke width is critical to the legibility for characters with high‐level complexity, whereas font size is the critical factor influencing the legibility for characters with low‐level complexity. The combination of 12pt font size and 1:10 stroke width resulted in the best legibility for both character complexity levels. The findings provide useful information for the font design of Chinese texts displayed on a visual display terminal to improve the legibility.