Determining the Appropriate Font Size, and use of Colour and Contrast for Underwater Displays

Détermination de la Police de Caractères Appropriée et Usage de la Couleur et du Contraste dans les Dispositifs d’Affichage sous l’Eau


  1. Morrison, J.B.
  2. Zander, J.K.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN);Shearwater Human Engineering, Vancouver BC (CAN)
Canadian mine countermeasures (MCM) divers currently use a combination of different displays to provide them with information about their safety, equipment, and status. MCM divers require a single, integrated display to simplify information gathering, and to provide information from the dive supervisor. Ergonomic design guidelines were reviewed and modified for information display in the underwater environment. A two-phase experiment was conducted to determine the optimal font size and the optimal colour, contrast, and background combination(s) for underwater displays. Eighteen subjects viewed a series of displays in four environments that simulated a combination of light and dark, clear and turbid conditions. Each subject viewed over 210 display screens to compare different font sizes and colour and contrast combinations. Each screen was scored for accuracy and readability. Results showed that when designing an underwater display, character height should be approximately 6 mm (26 point font size) when using Arial font. The display should have a black (or dark) background with light foreground letters. Light orange or light green were found to be the optimum colours for use in the display. A set of ergonomic guidelines for the design of underwater displays were developed based on the results of this study.

Il y a un résumé en français ici.

ergonomics;human engineering;underwater;diving;divers;immersion;hyperbaric;human systems interaction;HSI;information display
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-CR-2008-034 — Contractor Report
Date of publication
01 Apr 2008
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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