Re: Font Readability

Subject: Re: Font Readability
From: Brenda Mattick <B -dot- Mattick -at- UTS -dot- EDU -dot- AU>
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 1995 17:29:58 +1000

>> Okay, here's a question for you usability types. An engineer
>> in our company is trying to make us change the font we use
>> from a sans serif to a serif type. He claims that serif is
>> more readable. Does anyone have some data (studies, hard
>> evidence) to back one style or the other?

An interesting and thought-provoking thread...
People interested in research into the readability of type might like to
read Colin Wheildon's _Communicating or Just Making Pretty Shapes_ 3rd ed
1989-90 published by the Newspaper Advertising Bureau of Australia Ltd, 1st
Floor, 77 Berry St, North Sydney, NSW 2060 AUSTRALIA
Cost= around $10 Australian.

Colin Wheildon conducted a seven-year study (1982-1988) of "typography's
ancient maxims". The third ed revised in 1989-90 contains new research on
headline readability and the design of leaflets. Wheildon writes: "After a
fruitless six-month search for detailed research material, I determined to
conduct my own research into the comprehensibility of reading matter, in an
attempt to isolate and measure those type elements which, when used in
apparently ill-considered ways, could deter, disenchant, or even antagonise
the reader."

In the section on serif versus sans serif body type: "Magazine editors and
art directors argue that sans serif body type is clean, unlcuttered, and
attractive. And so it is. But they also argue that any difficulties with
comprehensibility - should they exist - will pass, as people become more
and more used to seeing and reading with sans serif."

However Wheildon concludes from his research studies that "body type must
be set in serif type if the designer intends it to be read and understood".

As contributors to this thread have noted, however, "it all depends!"

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