TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Font Facts From:"Race, Paul" <pdr -at- CCSPO -dot- DAYTONOH -dot- NCR -dot- COM> Date:Mon, 31 Oct 1994 02:29:00 EST
david dubin -at- notes -dot- pw -dot- com@Internet asked:
(and Paul -dot- d -dot- Race -at- daytonoh -dot- ncr -dot- com answered:)
>I have a few questions which deal with fonts on which I would like some
>from y'all .
>1. What is your primary document font style (typeface) for both Windows
>printing and non-Windows printing. (e.g. Windows: New Brunswick;
>New Century Schoolbook)
First of all, you must be confused about the use of typefaces. New Century
Schoolbook can be used with Windows software. If you have a PostScript
version, you can get Adobe Type Manager. Or else you can buy the TTF
version. Don't let your operating environment determine which typefaces you
use. Let reader considerations, space requirements, probable
distribution/printing method, etc. determine what you use.
For instance, for difficult text in a book that will be typeset, I like New
Century Schoolbook - it's extremely easy to read, unlike Bookman, which is
too flourishy (my term) or Times Roman (which is too compressed). But if I
need to squeeze a lot of info into a flyer and the look of the type itself
isn't important, I may choose Helvetica (or "Swiss," or "Switzerland," which
are clones of Helvetica), since it takes up a lot less room than, say New
Century Schoolbook. If it's got to go out on electronic media or if it's
likely to be photocopied instead of printed, and the typeface is rather
small, I'll also go with Helvetica, since it stands up to small type and
poor printing relatively well. Another well-designed San Serif like Optima
or Gill Sans may do equally well in the same circumstances, though the
weighting of Optima may disappear or cause minor problems with poor
On the other hand, my present job requires me to use a serif font (like New
Century Schoolbook) for body text, but it has to be accessible by people
who have only the Microsoft Office suite of applications. So, though it's
hardly my favorite Serif font, I use Microsoft's Times New Roman. It's
quite compressed and relatively hard to read, as compared to New Century
Schoolbook. So where I might have used NCSB at 11 point type, I have to use
TNR at 12 point to get what I feel is the same level of legibility.
YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. Borrow some books on the subject, listen to many
people's opinions, identify your specific requirements and choose based on
them, not according to what font your supervisor thinks is "pretty" or
>2. What font do you use inside of tables for Windows and non-Windows
Usually Helvetica, because I often have to use reduced sizes. Also, with
Helvetica, you can substitute Helvetica Compressed (or narrow) if you really
get in a squeeze on a word or two and hardly anybody will notice. But I
wouldn't dream of using Helvetica Narrow or Compressed throughout a document
- your reader would go cross-eyed.
>3. What special attributes do you use and why?
Italics for emphasis, bold for headers.
>Send the replies to either the list or to me. I will publish the findings
>a week. Thanks in advance for your help.
>This has been one man's opinion, yours may vary with mileage, age, or