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Print Guidance (also for electronic documents)


There is accepted good practice for producing written materials to be used by students, including those with visual impairment, dyslexia and other specific learning difficulty. It should be used for all module handbooks, programme information, letters, exam papers, room notices etc.


A well designed document means fewer requests for alternative formats. If you are asked to produce one (such as audio or large print format), it's much easier to produce!



  • Use short, simple sentences
  • Avoid unnecessary jargon
  • Avoid dense blocks of text by using short paragraphs

Fonts & Types

  • Use sans serif fonts such as Arial, Helvetica or Comic Sans for all body text
  • Keep the font size to 12 points or more
  • Do not use more than two different print sizes per document
  • Expand spacing between letters and lines
  • Use bold or make text larger to highlight, rather than underlining or italics (underlining makes words run together)
  • Use lower case, and only use capitals when absolutely necessary
  • Never use all capitals in headings, use lower case letters with initial capitals

Layout of text

  • Keep lines left justified, with a ragged right edge
  • Use boxes or indented spacing to break up text
  • Use bullets or numbers rather than continous prose
  • Use wider spacing between sentences and paragraphs
  • Do not begin sentences at the end of a line
  • Use wide margins and headings

Presentation of information

  • Use coloured paper instead of white - cream, buff or lemon are preferable choices
  • Keep design simple. Background graphics are difficult to read (do not put text over graphics)
  • Avoid light text on a dark background
  • Do not use a variety of fonts
  • Keep essential information grouped together e.g event time and place
  • Matt paper reduces glare, making reading easier

Alternative ways of presenting information

  • Flow charts are ideal for explaining procedures
  • Simple pictograms and graphics help to locate information
  • Lists of Do's and Dont's are more useful than continous text to highlight good practice
  • Provide a glossary of abbreviations and jargon
  • Include a contents page at the beginning and an index at the end

Screen Reading Software - Point to remember


Remember that some visually impaired  and dyslexic students may be using screen reading software to access printed materials, so try to imagine the document being "read out loud" to the student, rather than the document being read by the student.


To this end:

  • Have full stops after headings
  • Use numbered bullet points
  • No words in capital letters
  • Use as few signs as possible, especially no brackets, slashes or long lines of dots
  • Check the syntax and format of questions carefully 
  • Include explanatory marker lines such as "this is the end of question one" or "this is the end of the exam paper", so as blind users will get these prompts from their screen reading software

Large Print

  • Preferably, ask the student which size of font they prefer. If this is unknown, use a minimum of 16 point or above
  • Ensure page numbering, headings or captions for photographs/images are also in large print
  • Do not resort to blowing up standard size print documents on a photocopier