Accessibility guide cover 2nd edition

Accessible design for print

The following information is for print design. However many of the principles for print design are the same as for online design, for example text spacing. It has been adapted with permission from the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities Inc. [8]


  • The minimum recommended body size is 12-point type for a general audience, while 16 point is the minimum size recommended for people with vision impairment/low vision, or people with learning disabilities.
  • Use a strong sans-serif font such as Arial.
  • Avoid highly stylised or simulated handwriting and typefaces.
  • Typefaces are available in different weights. Avoid light options as there is less contrast between paper and text.
  • Avoid italics, which can be difficult for some people to read.
  • Bold type can be used to emphasise text.
  • Avoid using all capital letters in words. The human eye recognises the shape of words and a word in all capitals is harder to recognise.
  • Use a typeface that makes numerals distinct.

Design characteristics

  • Avoid underlining except for hyperlinks.
  • Body text line length should be about 60 characters.
  • Align text to the left-hand margin.
  • Avoid right-justified text.
  • The space between lines should be 1.5 and twice the space between words.
  • Words should be evenly spaced.
  • Make sure there is a strong contrast between the text and the background.
  • Use plenty of white space around text and images and separate the different elements of the page.
  • Avoid using text over images or patterned backgrounds.
  • Avoid using colour shading and screens that reduce the contrast between text and background.
  • To accentuate pieces of text, use white spaces or boxes.
  • Leave a space between paragraphs for ease of reading.
  • Avoid fitting text around images if this means lines of text start in different places and are difficult to find.
  • Avoid using watermarks in the background of content to identify for example, “draft” and “confidential”. Signal these clearly on the front page and include in the running header or footer.
  • Allow extra space/widely spaced lines on forms for people to write on or for signatures.
  • Consistency is important, for example make sure page numbers are in the same place on each page.

Paper and binding

  • Use matt or satin paper rather than glossy paper.
  • Use paper with enough weight so the print does not show through on the other side.
  • Choose binding that allows the print documents to open flat.

Accessibility guide cover 2nd edition
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