Font use

Subject: Font use
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 2010 12:05:52 +0200

An interesting thread.

If you have control over the display of the docs--for example, if they
will either be printed or in a .pdf in which you can embed a font or
font subset--you can get a very good font mix regardless of what may
be present in the customer's computer. Otherwise, your choice of fonts
may meet with some rather unfortunate font substitutions if you select
fonts that are not commonly installed on client machines.

For example, I saw a doc sample that used fonts created by the same
font designer intentionally to be complementary to each other that
looked terrific--Stone Sans and Stone Serif. The look of the piece was
so "right" that it made me begin to look at other combinations with an
eye toward how well they either coordinated with each other or
contrasted (when the contrast was desirable, as in some fairly quirky
advertising pieces).

For code, there have been some rather fascinating discussions online.
One fairly recent monospaced font for this purpose seems quite good:
Inconsolata. If you don't already have it, it is available as a free
download from many font sites. (Too many people use Courier or one of
its variations. Unfortunately, it has some major deficiencies--such as
potential confusion between lowercase "l" and the number 1.)

Personally, I think it is unfortunate that Times New Roman seems to be
the default body text font in documentation. Originally, it was
designed to get more characters into narrow newspaper columns, and is
thus somewhat compressed for easy reading on screen...especially at
smaller sizes.


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