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After getting into an argument with a friend about the use/existence of the Comic Sans font, he said that it is one of the few typefaces that virtually eliminates confusion among dyslexics.

It appears others have the same opinion. Many sources present anecdotal evidence such as:

Most significant of all, it has become highly regarded by those who work with dyslexic children - one of the better uses for which it was never intended.

Source: BBC News Magazine

Does Comic Sans really fix the problem dyslexics have reading printed material?

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No idea if other tags would be appropriate... –  tpg2114 Jan 11 '13 at 14:27
    
Ive added [dyslexia] tag - seems appropriate to me. –  Jamiec Jan 11 '13 at 15:11
    
@Jamiec Oddly enough, it didn't even occur to me to check if that one was a tag... duh. –  tpg2114 Jan 11 '13 at 15:15
    
It didn't exist - I created it. You may or may not have had enough rep to do so. –  Jamiec Jan 11 '13 at 15:41
    
Added tag for typography as that seems appropriate. –  matt_black Jan 11 '13 at 18:07

2 Answers 2

I don't know any specific research regarding "Comic Sans" and dyslexics, but there are at least a few fonts designed by and for dyslexics to ease reading. Two examples are the free OpenDyslexic font by Abelardo Gonzalez or the commercial Dyslexie font by Christian Boer.

Christian Boer is a dyslexic, Dutch graphics designer, who has used his own experiences as a dyslexic and feedback from dyslexic friends to create a font, which tries to avoid typical problems. On his web page, he has summarized many of his design decisions and at least a few of these design principles can be found in "Comic Sans" as well, e.g:

  • The letters have a "hand written" appearance, to make otherwise similar letters more distinct. The letters n and m are e.g. very different, since the vertical strokes of the m are slanted.

  • Letters, which are often mirrored or flipped in other fonts (e.g. b, d, p, q), have distinct features, making them easier to distinguish.

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I'm not dyslexic, but I find OpenDyslexic extremely hard to read. It somehow forces my brain to look below the actual letters; focusing them properly puts a terrible strain on my eyes... –  sudo Oct 19 at 11:57

There's no evidence that Comic Sans works well for dyslexics; it appears to be a myth.

There are a ton of commonly used fonts that are great for dyslexia, like Helvetica, Courier, Arial, and Verdana. The biggest factor in readability for dyslexics isn't font anyway, it's context: for example, the line height and kerning, the amount of white space on the page, the colors and contrast, and the design grid of the page. No font alone is going to be able to address the bigger factors, although they can certainly help.

For what it's worth, there's information here: https://creativemarket.com/blog/2014/05/14/is-comic-sans-easier-for-dyslexic-users-to-read about a study that found the four above-mentioned fonts worked well for dyslexic readers.

It didn't test Comic Sans, but it did test OpenDyslexic, which was inspired by Comic Sans. They found that OpenDyslexic did not perform as well as the others mentioned because it caused fixation.

At least one dyslexic blog noted, as well, that the study doesn't necessarily demonstrate that these commonly used fonts are better; it may also be the case that if dyslexic readers have experience using a particular font, it is easier for them to read text in that font in the future.

The study itself can be read here: http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/sites/default/files/good_fonts_for_dyslexia_study.pdf Or on one of the authors' websites, which also includes the study in a slideshow format: http://www.luzrello.com/DysWebxia.html

Their main conclusion is that font types do have an impact -- which is interesting, because we tend to leap straight past "do font types have an impact" all the way to "which ones", possibly partly because it's the easiest thing to change in a document. Their strongest findings seem to be that use of italic fonts in general and Arial Italic in particular should be avoided because they decrease readability (with the Arial version "significantly decreasing" it).

Also, they note that reading out loud is what would be most likely to improve with specially designed fonts like OpenDyslexic, and that they did not do an out loud test. I didn't see anything about WHY that's all that would improve with specially designed fonts, though.

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This is a good start for an answer, however it is a bit weak on the citation. One suggestion is to quote specific parts of the study to prevent link rot, as well as go directly to the study as opposed to a blog post. –  Larian LeQuella Oct 20 at 6:44
    
Thank you, good point! I was surprised to see that the article I linked to didn't even link to the study itself (and the first link I found to it was already dead, which really supported your point about link rot). I've added two separate links to the study, and skimmed it to make sure that the article was accurate in reporting its findings. Also added a couple of specific points from the study that weren't previously covered here or in the article. –  Danica Stone Oct 22 at 0:19

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