Re: Fonts for online documentation

Subject: Re: Fonts for online documentation
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 10:23:14 -0800

At 06:43 AM 2/25/97 GMT, Judyth Mermelstein wrote:

>Generally, whatever Microsoft may say, body text of any length should be in a
>font with serifs, and sans fonts should be reserved to headings. Although it
>might seem counter-intuitive, fonts with serifs are actually less fatiguing
>to read for longer text. (I.e., not just the odd paragraph.)

Sorry to disagree, Judyth, but I cannot recommend a serif font for online
presentation. It just doesn't work well. Conventional wisdom specifies
serif fonts for body text on paper -- not because it's less fatiguing,
but because the reader can skim the information faster. For technical
information, where the reader is trying to absorb the information and
typically slows down for comprehension, that argument seems moot.

Typically, users of online information systems "look stuff up" rather
than sit for a good long read. The average access time for online help
files is from 30 seconds to two minutes, so in general, they *are*
reading "just the odd paragraph".

Microsoft and Apple both use sans serif text for online display; and
they both spent megabucks on research before making that decision.
What research can you site to support your position that serif fonts
work best online?

Susan W. Gallagher Manager, Technical Publications
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com Expersoft Corporation, San Diego CA

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