Send to

Choose Destination
Br J Educ Psychol. 2002 Jun;72(Pt 2):213-26.

Reading at a distance: implications for the design of text in children's big books.

Author information

Visual Perception Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Essex, UK.



Visual acuity, typically measured by the ability to name letters at a distance, is poorer when letters are small and closely spaced. It has been suggested that reading can be affected by letter size and spacing.


To determine the effect of text size and spacing on the ability to read at a distance, with a view to helping with the design of text in children's 'Big Books'.


The visual acuity of 200 children aged between 6 and 12 was measured. A subset of 66 children was given further reading tests.


From a viewing distance of 3m children were required (1) to identify words and (2) to read passages of text rapidly. A repeated measures design was used to compare the effects of different size and spacing of text on performance of the two tasks.


Performance improved when the spacing of words and size of letters was greater than is typical in 'Big Books'. For a given letter density, increasing the spacing improved performance more than increasing the letter size.


The text in children's books could be made easier to read by expanding the spacing between words and also by increasing the size of the print. The maximum viewing distance should be reduced from 15ft (4.6m) to 10ft (3.0m).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center