In my effort to create an 11” x 17” poster housing myriad psychological usability heuristics I found myself constantly re-orienting the title. Due to valuable vertical real estate I’ve opted for the slightly less readable vertically oriented text. I was constantly fluctuating between orienting the title vertically top to bottom or bottom to top. I find vertically oriented text consumes far more cognitive processing but the focus of this poster is not the title nor is it considered to be an advertisement. Consequently, I’ve placed far less importance on the title being quickly internalized or serving as an attention grabber.
A book’s spine is printed top to bottom allowing the text to be easily read if lying face-up on a table. However, I’ve also heard that people are left-eyed or right-eyed and that one eye leads, the other follows. How is the readability affected between left-eye-high and left-eye-low and what is the split in the general population?
In the US we read top to bottom left to right so it may follow that any vertically oriented text should be read top to bottom. Text oriented bottom to top may result in double takes as the reader is essentially reading it backwards.
Art schools sometimes teach that “upwards is positive, downwards is negative.” This sounds very culturally biased and I’d love to see some research on the theory.
If you adhere to the mantra that “You read best what you read most” then top to bottom would seem to be in order for us Americans.
If more than one line of vertical text is necessary then I would prefer the text to be read bottom to top so the next line read would be to the right of the initial line (following standard US left to right reading style).
There is a paragraph on the topic of binding in ‘Designing Books’ Hochull, Kinross: Hypen Press. pg 101
It suggests if the spine of a book is broad enough to orient it horizontally, but goes on to say:
‘If they are vertical, traditionally in German-language books text runs from the bottom up (except on large-format volumes that are laid front cover up in the bookshelf, so that the spine title can be read normally). Since the spine title functions primarily when a book is standing upright on a shelf, this arrangement is certainly more rational–because one inclines one’s head more readily to the left than to the right–than the international standard, according to which text should be made to run from the top down. That one can read this spine text better when the book is lying on the table is not a factor in the matter; by then the reader knows which book is lying there (and anyway, many books also have their title on the cover).’
I wonder what data supports the claim that “one inclines one’s head more readily to the left than to the right.”
Upon searching Google for “vertical banner” I found virtually all read bottom to top.
Ultimately I’m leaning towards top to bottom due to my tendency to read the top-most word first.