The best choice for print is black. Black is the most visible on white or pale yellow backgrounds. In strong lighting, white objects or print on black are more visible. In weak light or for quick reading, black on white is best. The next best choice is green on white.
Yellow and white print or designs will seem larger than they are. Red, green and blue affect size perceptions, in that order.
Red and blue are focused at different points in the eye. If you combine red and blue in print or artwork, the reader’s eye will work hard to focus and refocus for the different colours.
Some think a green tint or green paper is easy on the eyes but researchers have disproved this. Green actually increases eye fatigue and discomfort. Green type on white paper is good, but not green paper.
White paper is the ideal background for text. Some audiences may feel that black print on white paper is too formal and, in legal documents, foreboding.
If you must use a coloured paper, this is the order of preference:
But be careful with yellowish greens, mature readers can find them annoying if too bright or fluorescent.
Since legibility of print is directly related to the degree of contrast between the print and the paper, black on white or black on ivory are the best choices. If your audience is intimidated by the content, use other features to make your document reader.
We’d like to mention that the best background for overhead projector slides is pale yellow. The usual, clear vinyl sheets allow too much light and overburden the readers’ eyes.
For things like posters and road signs that are large and read quickly, yellow and black are the most visible colours if used together. Next best are green on white, red on white, blue on white and white on blue. Black on white is only the sixth best choice for large items. Bright colours cause trouble when the reader has to concentrate for long. They tire the eye and create a disturbing afterimage.