Re: RE. Readability studies on fonts--serif and sans serif

Subject: Re: RE. Readability studies on fonts--serif and sans serif
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2000 18:36:35 -0500

I second everything Geoff said, but I want to add my usual pontification
on this subject.

Typography--which refers to specifying fonts and how they are used on a
page--is a venerable craft. Doing typography well requires experience,
taste, intelligence, and judgment, just like doing anything else well.

Having at your disposal a word processing or publishing program and a
folder full of fonts does not make you a typographer. Yes, you can read
some excellent books and learn the fundamentals well enough to turn out
a decent document; but just relying on a few rules of thumb of
questionable provenance (and all typographic rules of thumb are of
questionable provenance) will likely get you into trouble. Citing
studies to get your boss off your back or to rationalize your personal
preference is not the route to good page design (be the page physical or

By the same token, ignoring or denigrating typography as being somehow
of lesser importance to the finished product than the writing does a
disservice to your reader.

The solution, it seems to me, is to include a competent typographer in
your document production cycle. This may be a simple and inexpensive as
paying a designer to create some templates for you, or it may mean
hiring someone with an interest in or training in page design. But
treating it as an afterthought that "oh, the writers can handle" is a
mistake in my opinion.


"Hart, Geoff" wrote:
> Beth Scudder is <<...trying to determine what font is best for Web
> publishing in terms of readability. I'm pretty sure that the various studies
> I've read on this from time to time indicated that sans serif fonts were
> found to be more readable.>>
[--snipped good stuff--]

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