Re: Fonts for Online documents

Subject: Re: Fonts for Online documents
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 1996 10:01:00 EST

At 07:44 AM 6/20/96 MST, you wrote:

>Tim Altom[SMTP:taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET] wrote--
>>> Hold on there, pardner. This is more myth than meat, methinks. Serifs
>were carved on monuments, not for legibility, but to prevent the stone
>cracking at the end of the letter. <<

>Yup. Tim's right. At least this is what I've learned also. There was a
>television show on PBS several years ago about writing (language symbols)
>and alphabets. Serifs carved in stone were not only discussed on the
>show, but demonstrated, too. It was quite interesting.

>As Tim said later in his post, the *perception* of either serif or sans
>serif fonts being easier to read is, dare I say, *entirely* cultural.

>I wonder if this also applies to the lowercase vs. UPPERCASE debate? I
>would argue for lowercase being easier to read because of the word-forms
>argument. Robin Williams has *excellent* examples of this in her book
>"The PC is Not A Typewriter".

>Bev Parks
>parksb -at- huachuca-emh7 -dot- army -dot- mil

It's cultural in that we've come to expect upper and lowercase letters to
signal certain things. The basis of all-uppercase being hard to read is our
expectations only. Someone raised entirely on uppercase wouldn't find it
hard to read at all. But since we've been raised in a mixed-case
environment, we find uppercase extremely hard to read, because many vital
clues aren't there. We're forever trying to educate people not to use pages
of uppercase text to emphasize safety or regulatory information. Doing so
only makes it certain that the user won't read it, so paradoxically the very
effort to make it stand out makes it less likely to be read.

All-lowercase is almost as hard to read in large quantities. Try to read ee
cummings and see what I mean.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
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