Type on a digital screen is inherently different than reading on paper but we’d just like to point out a few things to consider around typography on a tablet device. Typography is very important to the reader’s experience on a tablet. Setting type correctly will make the reader’s journey that more enjoyable. Set it wrong and its a chore to work through, with the addition of the bright screen it will feel twice as bad as trying to read bad type on paper.
There’s more than a few examples of where publications have just dropped PDFs onto an iPad and asked reader to read it only to find it’s just to hard to read multi columns & layouts of type you need to zoom in and out again to move through the articles.
We recommend baseline type set no lower than 16pt/20pt leading. Also consider the contrast between background and text colour used. Studies have found that too strong a contrast and brightness of screen (black text on white background) can actually be very jarring to read large amounts of text over a prolonged time. Using a slight off white or textured background and text that is not so black actually helps with readability over prolonged periods.
Have a bigger leading than you would in print. Because of the backlight adding more leading keeps your eyes focused on a line when reading. Using PDF or HTML rather than an image format such as PNG or JPG for text, this is an important point to consider on retina/higher res displays.
Scrolling vs. Multi Column Layout
Ideally you would use either 1 or 2 column text within an iPad layout. When using more than 1 column on scrolling pages keep in mind that text will be read from left to right so always ensure that both columns are visible on a page before the user is guided to scroll down to the next level of text.
With regards to using a singular (1) column especially over a tall page, this technique can save you time by laying out this page in portrait and calling it a B page. It will then just resize this in landscape. Using this trick especially for long articles will not only save you time but should also allow your readers to read through the article easier as it’s one continual length in both views. You can read more around this in the workflow section of this guide.
We recommend reading this article by Information Architects regarding multi column or single column.
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