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17 March 2021

Dear Editors,

The new quarterly Geoscientist is superficially attractive, but causes us eye strain. We were unable to appreciate the interesting articles up to page 18, where the main narratives are in unusually faint print. This is somewhat ironic, too, as two articles were interesting and important: about minorities and discrimination in geology.

Those who are visually impaired, or just elderly, are certainly disadvantaged in this new print magazine. The headlines and adverts are fine, the bold print in articles and letters nice and clear, and the medium-weight print from page 24 onwards, is OK. But the faint print in the opening pages is too difficult to attempt for one of us, and caused eye strain in the better-sighted other. Do please use more ink next time, or you’ll be accused of discriminating against older readers and the sight-impaired.

Jack & Susan Treagus

Drs Jack and Susan Treagus both worked at the University of Manchester and are now retired.


Dear Editors,

I agree with Jack & Susan Treagus that the new Geoscientist is extremely hard to read, and not only by those who are visually impaired. The faint grey is difficult to parse from the white background, the sans serif font does not lead the eye, and the print size is too small – leaving too much white area around leading to headaches.

Serif font is acknowledged to better connect letters into words. Sans serif is useful for non-English speakers who might not recognize the odd constructions of ‘a’ and ‘g’, etc. It is also clean and so is preferred for maps. But please, if you want us to read your articles, then give us the educationally best, not the avant-garde aesthetic, font.

Gina Barnes

Prof. Gina Barnes is an Emeritus Professor at Durham University


Dr Amy Whitchurch, Editor; Sarah Day, Editor; Prof. Andy Fleet, Editor-in-Chief; David Shilston, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Geoscientist magazine, write in response:

Thank you for your feedback and for flagging these issues with some of the text in the printed magazine.

We opted for a san-serif font because their simplified structure affords accessibility. Serifs, the small decorative lines used on letters in fonts such as Times New Roman, can distract the eye and are overly complex. Additionally, serif fonts can be problematic in digital publications because the pixilation on screen can distort the edges of letters.

Specifically, we opted to use the ‘Museo Sans’ font because it is considered a highly legible typeface, well suited for any display and text use. In particular, this font has good character recognition, in that the upper-case ‘I’ (eye), lower-case ‘i’ (lower-eye), lower-case ‘l’ (el) and number 1 (one) can be distinguished from one another with relative ease, as can the lower-case ‘a’ (aye), ‘c’ (see) and ‘o’ (owe).

However, the weight of font used on some of the printed pages in the Spring issue was unnecessarily faint. We have corrected this for the Summer 2021 issue and hope the problems are now resolved.

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