Serif more readable? Don't bet on it

Subject: Serif more readable? Don't bet on it
From: Peggy Thompson <Peggy_Thompson -at- CCMAIL -dot- OSTI -dot- GOV>
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 1995 12:02:00 -0400

I quote from Jan V. White's 1988
Graphic_Design_for_the_Electronic_Age on the question of which
font is more readable, serif or non-serif (page 13):

"One of the most common cliches about type is that sans serif is
harder to read. That would be an oversimplification, even it it
were true, which is questionable. Readability is the product of
a complicated mix of factors, and the presence or absence of
serifs is just one of them. **Readability is likely to be the
result of good design and good production, not of TYPE but of
TEXT. Not 'Times Roman is readable or unreadable' but 'A
newspaper or book is readable or unreadable,'** acording to
Gerrit Noordzij, a Dutch professor of typography and design."

White goes on to say this about cultural preferences for type:

"The argument about serifs cannot be resolved: both pro- and
anti-serif partisans are right....The typefaces we learned to
read with are the ones we are used to and therefore most
comfortable with. In the US, those happen to be the faces with
serifs. In Europe, sans serif is the rule. CHOOSE WHAT MAKES
MOST SENSE."


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