Re: Font Peeves

Subject: Re: Font Peeves
From: Michael Lewis <lewism -at- BRANDLE -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 1998 11:09:15 +1100

Kimberly Lyle-Wilson wrote:

> I hate using TNR and Arial personally because they're so darn boring. (I
> hate Palatino even more.) But my personal preference isn't really the
> issue when I'm producing manuals. I think the manual needs to be laid
> out in a way to emphasize the content and organization of the material.
> Using uncommon fonts may produce a really sharp look, but it can
> distract the reader. Suddenly they're noticing the cool font and the
> neat titles and the content goes unnoticed.

Yebbut we aren't (or at least I wasn't, and I don't think Bruce Byfield
was) talking about "uncommon" or (worse -- infinitely worse) "cool"
fonts. The point has previously been made that good typography doesn't
get noticed (rather like good writing, at least in non-poetic genres).
By all means use familiar fonts; just be aware of their limitations. By
all means go a little beyond the familiar, and use appropriate but
uncommon fonts; just don't confront the reader with anything inducing a
headache. Above all, don't use anything inappropriate -- and there's
heaps of research to show that TNR on "normal" body margins is somewhat
inappropriate. (If it's boring too, that only compounds the problem: we
do want our readers to feel favourably disposed towards our documents.)
Michael Lewis
Brandle Pty Limited, Sydney, Australia
PO Box 1249, Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012
Suite 8, The Watertower, 1 Marian St, Redfern 2016
Tel +61-2-9310-2224 ... Fax +61-2-9310-5056

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