the document on `Alternative Formatting


Alternative Formats Large print - Publishing in large font sizes

Large print publications are documents with a type size of 14 point and above. Large print versions are essential for many disabled people, including people with visual impairments, learning disabilities, dyslexia and problems with coordination or manual dexterity, for example as a result of a stroke, multiple sclerosis or arthritis.

Producing large print materials

No single size is suitable for everyone. If you are producing information in large print for an individual, ask which size best suits their needs.     Produce simple large print documents in-house from a Word document. Send more complex jobs to a commercial printer so that picture and print quality are consistent at larger sizes. Do not attempt to create large print versions by enlarging a standard print document using a photocopier. Proofread all large print versions to make sure the headings and paragraph text match the page breaks. Reasonable limits to the size of type Requests for type sizes above 28 point should be carefully considered for cost-effectiveness. Very large type sizes can be counter-productive because they cause publications to become bulky and difficult to navigate. Offering alternative formats can avoid these problems. For example providing an audio version of the information or emailing someone a text document so that they can access the information using a screen reader on their computer.

Large print guidelines

Large print should always follow the ‘Clear print’ standards for setting text and layout.


Always use clear text fonts and avoid indistinct or decorative fonts.

Type size

A minimum size of 16pt is recommended for people with a visual impairment. The RNIB recommend 16 to 22 point for large print and 24+ for giant print. Be aware that some fonts The large print guidelines were developed together with Informability at Central Office of Information, and issued by the Office for Disability Issues:

appear larger than others at the same point size. If you are producing information in large print for a particular individual, ask them what size they would like.

Type weight

Use a medium or bold weight. Avoid light fonts, especially in smaller type sizes.

Type style

Avoid italics and excessive use of capital letters, as these letterforms affect the outline shape of words and are therefore more difficult to read.

‘Reversing out’ – printing on a coloured background

Only ‘reverse out’ if the font is clear and bold/large enough not to break up or fill in with ink. Keep a good contrast between lettering and background colour.


Allow adequate leading (the space between lines of type). Minimum 2 point leading for 12 point text, more for larger sizes.

Letter spacing

Ensure adequate, even spacing between letters. Letters should never appear to touch.

Word spacing

Keep word spacing even. Do not condense or stretch lines of type to fit a particular measure.

Line length

Allow 50-65 characters, including spaces, per line. Less than 65 is preferable. Text set in columns may well have less than 50 characters per line.

Heading styles

Use heading styles when creating a document. This enables distinctions of size and style between ordinary text and sub-titles, headings and sub-headings to be retained when text is enlarged.


Ranged left type with a ragged right hand margin is easier to read than justified type.


Do not split words at the end of lines: avoid hyphenation.


Keep layout clean and logical. Provide contents lists and clear headings to act as signposts for the reader. Break text into short paragraphs with adequate space between and around The large print guidelines were developed together with Informability at Central Office of Information, and issued by the Office for Disability Issues:



Allow adequate space between columns. Use rules to separate columns if they must be close together. Avoid designs with uneven column widths.


Do not run type over or around illustrations, pictures, photos or graphics. Use bold images if using images at all. Check images work at a larger scale.


If you have a limited amount of space, consider reducing the volume of copy before reducing the type size.

Form design

Remember that people with a visual impairment often have large handwriting and need more space in which to write. Text and related boxes for writing or putting a tick in should be clearly associated with each other. A large gap can cause confusion or errors.


Contrast between background and type is crucial for legibility. Black on white or yellow is best for most people. Always use dark colours on light. Be aware of colour blindness: 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women can't distinguish between red and green.


Use matt papers. Glossy surfaces can create glare. Avoid thin or semi-transparent papers which allow show-through.

Target audience

Younger people tend to prefer sans serif fonts, while older people tend to prefer serif fonts.

Ascenders and descenders

Consider the length of letters b, d, f, h, k, l, t, g, j, p, q, y in relation to the x height of the typeface. Short ascenders and descenders make a typeface less legible.

Individual characteristics of letter shapes

For example a closed 'a' is more likely to be confused with a 'c' or an 'o' than an open 'a', and a ‘3’ can be confused with an ‘8’ in some typefaces.

Thickness of letterstrokes

Strongly stressed typefonts are less legible than fonts with even stroke widths. The large print guidelines were developed together with Informability at Central Office of Information, and issued by the Office for Disability Issues: