A Review of the Cognitive Effects of Disfluent Typography on Functional Reading

Myra Thiessen, Sofie Beier, Hannah Keage

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Recent debate has seen the proposition that difficult to read, or disfluent, typefaces can improve certain learning conditions. This is counterintuitive for typography where it is the aim to support reading acts by creating texts that are as clear and as easy to read as possible. We explore recent literature on the disfluency effect in an effort to contextualize the results for typography research that is grounded in functional readability. What is evident is that the discussion about whether or not disfluent reading materials support learning is far from resolved. Further research is needed in key areas such as those related to the typographic principles of visual cuing and emphasis as well as other broader areas such as how we may be able to determine threshold for disfluency, benefit over time, and what impact environmental distractions have on the disfluency effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-815
Number of pages19
JournalDesign Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2020


  • cognition
  • disfluency
  • functional readability
  • psychology
  • Typography

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