Pretty or pretty hard to read?

 There are a lot of creative, fun fonts to choose from in software like Word, PowerPoint, and the like. However, with font, we want to prioritize readability over creativity. The wrong font can make content more difficult read, especially for those with vision impairments and reading/learning disorders.

There may be items on this page that are inaccessible for individuals with some forms of disability. These items are necessary for illustrating differences between accessible and inaccessible content. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact



The following fonts are generally regarded as the most accessible fonts. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) website suggests Arial and Verdana as the standard, and the American Council of the Blind website suggests Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, and Tahoma from this list.

  • Arial
  • Calibri
  • Tahoma
  • Verdana
  • Helvetica
Example of Accessible Fonts


Generally, discussions on font and accessibility focus on sans serif fonts versus serif fonts. The fonts suggested above each have something in common – these are considered “sans serif” fonts.

A “serif” is a decorative stroke that finishes off the end of a letter’s stem, whereas “sans serif” is a letter without (sans) this decorative stroke.  In the image on the right, you can see the difference between the letter “T” in Tahoma (sans serif) and the letter “T” in Times New Roman (serif).

Are sans serif fonts really more accessible than serif fonts? In general, the research leans this ways. Checkout this blog on “Font Readability Research” to get an awesome summary of current literature.

Example of sans serif versus serif font

Larger is better, of course! Even though 12pt font is a universally practiced standard, it is not an accessible standard. Use the list below as a guide for font sizes. When in doubt, always go bigger.

SoftwareTitle/Heading Font SizeBody Font Size
LMS16 point+14 point +
Word Document16 point +14 point +
PDF16 point +14 point +
PowerPoint40 point +28 point +
  • LMS (course shell)
    • Title Heading Font Size – 16 point +
    • Body Font Size – 14 point +
  • Word Document
    • Title Heading Font Size – 16 point +
    • Body Font Size – 14 point +
  • PDF
    • Title Heading Font Size – 16 point +
    • Body Font Size – 14 point +
  • PowerPoint (any presentation software)
    • Title Heading Font Size – 40 point +
    • Body Font Size – 28 point +


Research indicates that italicizing text can have a negative impact on readability for people with neurological disabilities such as dyslexia (Franzen & Philiastides, 2018; Rello & Baeza-Yates, 2016). In fact, reliable sources on accessibility say to avoid italicizing text altogether (e.g., WCAG). Obviously, we can’t completely avoid using italics in education. For example, italicizing journal names is a requirement of certain citation standards (e.g., APA). However, we should make an effort to substitute italics for other typographical conventions, such as bolding or “quotations”, where appropriate. 

As educators, we often bold text to highlight important words or phrases in a paragraph of text. This typographical feature helps in scanning content for important information. Most reliable sources on accessibility state that it is ok to use bolded fonts on single words, short phrases, and for titles and headings – but to avoid using bold on long chunks of text. 

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