Re: Fonts for Online documents

Subject: Re: Fonts for Online documents
From: Steven Jong <SteveJong -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 14:17:06 -0400

In response to my jocular comment ("[H]ey, would you carve serifs on your
>granite monuments if you didn't have to?"), Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
stunned me by writing:

>> Serifs were carved on monuments, not for legibility, but to prevent the
stone from
>> cracking at the end of the letter. Notice that serifs were only carved at
>> the ends of long, straight lines.

Only on the Internet, Tim, would I get such an authoritative response to an
offhand remark. I can only hope you had a twinkle in your eye as you wrote
it. (Perhaps the emoticon for that is... *)

The rest of the collective discussion of serif versus sans serif fonts
touched on cultural bias, but in an almost dismissive way (e.g., Tim
continued, "Further, the studies that have allegedly shot down serif or sans
serif in legibility competitions are inconclusive and usually culturally
biased."). Assuming for the moment that's true, what are you going to do
about it? Publish sans serif body copy and tell your customers they'll get
used to it? Check out the schoolbooks and childrens' books and you'll see an
overwhelming majority of serif typefaces. Trying to change the cultural bias,
or publish against it, would seem futile to me. Wouldn't you agree?

(One useful point I derived from your observation is that if a document were
intended for European distribution, a sans serif face *might* be more

-- Steve

Steven Jong, Documentation Group Leader ("Typo? What tpyo?")
Lightbridge, Inc, 281 Winter St., Waltham, MA 02154 USA
<jong -at- lightbridge -dot- com>, 617.672.4902 [voice], 617.890.2681 [FAX]

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