2.5 Readability

Screen Reader Interactions

  • Carefully watch the language you use for the writing on your page. Perfect technical accessibility cannot help you if your reader cannot understand your writing.

  • Poorly formatted page text can detract from your page's readability.

  • Long paragraphs are difficult to read on digital screens.

  • Poor text spacing, such as word spacing created by justified text, makes pages hard to read for people with dyslexia.

  • Literacy research has concluded that half of American adults can’t read a book written at an eighth-grade level.



  • Write in shorter, clear sentences and paragraphs.

  • Use headings to break your articles into readable sections of text.

  • Always keep your audience in mind.

    • Use the most appropriate language for your audience.

    • Avoid jargon and figures of speech.

    • Avoid using unnecessarily complex words and phrases.

    • If this is unavoidable, consider providing a glossary for terms readers may not know.

  • Expand acronyms on first use. For example, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is the source for these writing tips.

  • Consider illustrations (images, video, audio) to help clarify meaning.

    • Don't forget to include alternative methods for understanding them such as alternative text for images and closed captioning/transcripts for video.


  • Use list formatting as appropriate.

  • Don't use underlined text — this is reserved for links. Use bold text for emphasis instead.

  • Avoid using all caps for text.

  • Avoid justified text.

  • Left align text to keep word spacing consistent.

  • Do not mix fonts within article paragraphs.

    • On a given page ideally use only one heading font and one paragraph font.

    • You can use multiple weights of each font for emphasis — bold versus regular font thickness.


Classic editing is fabulous. Having someone else critique and/or edit your work before publishing is the perfect way to catch readability issues.


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