Unlike Braille, that was invented by Louis Braille in 1824, the Large Print format wasn’t widely used until the mid 1960s.
Large Print book publishing in English began in 1965, in England, when a man by the name of Frederick Thorpe, a then retired book and magazine distributor, decided to attempt to meet the needs of the elderly visually impaired readers in his area, by reprinting older classic books in editions around twice the physical size of the original printed books.
Originally, the books were given plain dust-jackets with larger than scaled print titles, and a color coded system to indicate the genre of book, and while these books met the needs of the people visually, most were too difficult for the elderly to handle, due to their massive size.
In 1969, Thorpe changed his standards by offering these books in 16 point type, printing them in normal sized binding, and again color coded for genre. This change increased the overall acceptance of Large Print books in public Libraries all over the country.
Lighthouse International now provides a “Seal of Approval” to Commercial Publishers for books in Large Print that meet their quality standards.
These standards call for:
- Maximum limits on size, thickness and weight
- Minimum limits on margins
- Type size of AT LEAST 16 point, and preferably 18 to 24 point, with “Super Large” up to 48 point
- Sans serif or modified serif font is recommended
- Adequate letter and word spacing
- Flexible binding recommended to allow the book, when opened, to lie flat on a table or hard surface
While simply enlarging the print size is helpful for many, there are some people with certain visual issues that require specific fonts that have certain characteristics.
Some of these characteristics for such fonts for most Large Print publications are:
- Sans serif
- Consistent tracking
- Clear descenders
- Optically circular counters
- Larger punctuation marks
Examples of more easily read fonts are: