Large-print (also large-type or large-font) refers to the formatting of a book or other text document in which the typeface (or font), and sometimes the medium, are considerably larger than usual, to accommodate people who have poor vision. Often public special-needs libraries will stock large-print versions of books, along with versions written in Braille.
Among the first large print book publishers, the Clear Type Publishing Company published a collection of books in 36 point type, circa 1910. The Ohio based company specialized in large print, publishing books in 36pt and 24pt.
In 1914 Robert Irwin produced a series of textbooks in 36 point, for low-vision children in Cleveland, Ohio, schools. This type proved to be too large and was soon abandoned for the more popular 24 point. Research sponsored by Irwin in 1919 indicated 24 point type to be the most readable of the sizes evaluated. Further research by others in 1952 and 1959 supported 18 point or 24 point type.
In 1964 Frederick Thorpe began publishing standard print titles with type set twice the size of the original printing. The books were given plain dust jackets, color-coded to indicate categories like mysteries (black), general fiction (red), romances (blue), Westerns (orange), etc. These physically large editions were difficult for some readers to handle and in 1969 Thorpe's company, Ulverscroft, began producing the books in 16 point type and normal-sized bindings. In 1990 Ulverscroft expanded their large print output by acquiring the Yorkshire based large print publisher Magna Publishing.
Today, the RNIB describe large print as "generally 16 to 18 point size" with anything larger being giant print. Many, if not most public libraries in the English-speaking world have Large Print sections with most bookstores do carry some Large Print editions.
The American National Association for Visually Handicapped (NAVH) provides the NAVH Seal of Approval to commercial publishers in the US, for books that meet their large print standards. (Lighthouse International acquired NAVH in 2010).
The standards call for:
For many people with visual impairment enlarging the type is not enough. Fonts designed for legibility make it easier to distinguish one character from another. Some characteristics of such fonts are:
Examples of more-easily read fonts are APHont, Antique Olive, Helvetica, Tahoma, Tiresias and Verdana. APHont was developed for the non-profit AmericanPrinting House for the Blind. They also make it available as a free download for individual use by those with vision problems.
Since 2005 some companies have begun offering a variety of font sizes for large print books. ReadHowYouWant, ABEBooks, Largeprintbookco are some of the prominent Large Print Books Providers. Amazon also has a dedicated section for Large Print Books.