The effect of letter spacing and coloured overlays on reading speed and accuracy in adult dyslexia

Amanda Sjoblom, Elizabeth Eaton, Steven Stagg

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Zorzi et al. (2012, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 109, 11455) found evidence that extra-large letter spacing aids children with dyslexia, but the evidence for the coloured overlays is contradictory (e.g., Henderson et al., 2013, J. Res. Special Educ. Needs, 13, 57; Wilkins, 2002, Ophthalmic Physiol. Opt., 22, 448), and possible combined advantages have not been identified.


To investigate whether extra-large letter spacing or coloured overlays can alleviate reading problems in dyslexic adults.


The participants were 24 dyslexic and 24 non-dyslexic university students, matched for age and fluid intelligence.


The reading speed and the errors made by a dyslexic and a control group were measured in four conditions: with and without coloured overlays and with normally and largely spaced texts.


Large letter spacing improves the reading speed in general, as well as improves the reading accuracy in dyslexic readers.


The results support the positive effect of letter spacing on reading performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)630-639
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date14 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

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