RE: Typeface for print and online documentation

Subject: RE: Typeface for print and online documentation
From: "David Berg" <dberg -at- dmpnet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 14:13:15 -0500

> Do any of you have data on what typefaces are easier to read in print vs.
> online documentation? I tended to like Arial (small size, usually
> 10-12) for
> everything, until someone casually mentioned that Arial was hard
> to read on
> paper (or did they say "online?"). Any preferences (backed up by
> reason) out
> there in techwhirl-land?

There are a number of sources that address typography for print vs. online.
For screen viewing, the basic consideration is that sans-serif fonts (such
as Arial) are usually best, though a few slab-serif fonts (such as Georgia)
also work well.

The problem with serif fonts (such as Times) is that the "feet" on the
letter can sometimes get lost in the pixels on the typical monitor screen.
It's not as bad now as it was in the days of 32 dot pitch Packard Bell
monitors, but it's still a problem.

Serif fonts are generally better in print because they can help improve
readability. The serifs (the little feet on each letter) help the letters of
each word flow together, helps the human eye to connect them together as a
unit. True morphology geeks can expand on that concept with references and a
longer discussion, but this principle is pretty well accepted. That's why
you find serif fonts used for the body text in books, newspapers, etc.

David Berg


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Typeface for print and online documentation: From: Jessica Pease

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