Code Colorizing and Readability

13 Jul 2005

Code Colorizing and Readability

Most developers, myself included, are content with syntax coloring schemes that are fairly close to Visual Studio’s default of black text on a white background. I’ll occasionally encounter developers who prefer black backgrounds. And I’ve even seen developers who prefer the white on blue scheme popularized by DOS Wordperfect.

I vaguely recall reading somewhere that black on white was the most readable of all color schemes. I found two studies with actual data based on real-world tests with users:

  • Color Test Results
    As you can see, the most readable color combination is black text on white background; overall, there is a stronger preference for any combination containing black. The two least readable combinations were red on green and fuchsia on blue. White on blue and red on yellow were ranked fairly high, while green on yellow and white on fuchsia were ranked fairly low. All others fell somewhere between these extremes. Also, in every color combination surveyed, the darker text on a lighter background was rated more readable than its inverse (e.g. blue text on white background ranked higher then white text on blue background).
  • Readability Of Websites With [...]
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