On 2014/07/03 I wrote How To Choose A Font. My font choice would get used mostly in a text editor, a web page, or a printed page. Based on notable information I ended up choosing DejaVu Sans Mono. Five years later I’m still in love with it.
Right now though I’ve got important life-tasks that I need to complete, that I want to avoid. So it seemed like a great time to revisit my font choice.
SVG is a markup language for describing two-dimensional graphics applications and images, and a set of related graphics script interfaces.
That is probably one of the “understatements of the century” kind of things. At least, it would appear that way to folks like myself who have never worked with such things (nor had the need to hand-code Postscript as seemingly many others have).
Every computer-user has a different strategy for choosing the best font for long periods working at the computer. They all involve many metrics, strategies, and rubrics. Based on that, they are probably all wrong. Well not really, they are right based upon experience, and experience is really all that matters.
I was curious about whether my experience had any basis in reality, and I really wanted to dig into what is the “right way” to choose a font for any particular user or situation. The following are notes and ultimately a decision on what is the best for me. Hopefully the notes alone are revealing and help you reach your own conclusion, too. At the very least you ought to be educated, informed, and probably surprised, too, about some of the factors involved in font selection.
This might be interesting for programmers, UX people and probably every computer user out there.
- Serifs are tips for the reader’s eyes for flow.
- San-serifs are better for low-res.
- Simultaneously states that is no difference between serif and san-serif.
- Rec: Helvetica/Arial
- Comment recommendations:
- Designed for digital, Hermann Zapf’s Optima, or as a backup Verdana
- Designed for digital, Open Sans
- Both, Calibri
- San-serifs are easier on the eyes as you get older, citing retinal tears specifically
- Designed for screen: Verdana, Trebuchet MS, and (the serif) Georgia.
- Easy to read, available on virtually all machines.
- Let go of times new roman, Arial, and Helvetica.
- Traditionally a serif font was used for the main body of a document, and sans-serif for headings. Today, those principles are often reversed.
- Popular serif fonts are Times New Roman, Palatino, Georgia, Courier, Bookman and Garamond.
- Some popular San Serif fonts are Helvetica, Arial, Calibri, Century Gothic and Verdana.
- It’s been said that serif fonts are for “readability,” while sans-serif fonts are for “legibility.”
- Best fonts for online: go with sans-serif.
- 2002 study by the Software Usability and Research Laboratory:
- The most legible fonts were Arial, Courier, and Verdana.
- At 10-point size, participants preferred Verdana. Times New Roman was the least preferred.
- At 12-point size, Arial was preferred and Times New Roman was the least preferred.
- The preferred font overall was Verdana, and Times New Roman was the least preferred.
- For easiest online reading, use Arial 12-point size and larger. If you’re going smaller than 12 points, Verdana at 10 points is your best choice. If you’re after a formal look, use the font “Georgia.” And for older readers, use at least a 14-point font.
- Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, an e-commerce consultant, did a series of tests in 2001. He also came to the conclusion that the sans-serif fonts are more suited to the computer screen.Some of the highlights of the test results were that at 12 points, respondents showed a preference for Arial over Verdana – 53% to 43% (with 4% not being able to distinguish between the two).Two-thirds of respondents found that Verdana at 12 points was too large for body text, but Verdana at 10 points was voted more readable than Arial at 10 points by a 2 to 1 margin.In conclusion, for the best font readability, use Arial 12 point or Verdana at 10 points and 9 points for body text. For headlines, he suggests using larger bold Verdana.
- Comments: Good.
- My comments: no links to cited papers
- Post: Advice to use san-serif is outdated and inappropriate for today’s high resolution screens. San-serif or not is irrelevant; instead the measure of success is to use a large font that was specifically designed for on-screen usage. For inspiration, look at the free fonts listed at the Google Web Fonts directory, especially Vollkorn or the Droid Serif font which was particularly developed with small font size in mind.
- GCR: That post is confusing because he later explains that we are not there yet, but rather getting close.
- Post: Sans-serif are best for on-screen.
- Legibility refers to being able to read a text in bad conditions. “Legibility is concerned with the very fine details of typeface design, and in an operational context this usually means the ability to recognize individual letters or words. Readability however concerns the optimum arrangement and layout of whole bodies of text”
- Studies that contrast serif vs. non-serif fonts seem to be controversial.
- There are some ground rules one can find, like:
- Don’t make long lines nor too long paragraphs
- Use wide fonts such as Palatino or Verdana for small fonts
- Use spaces between lines, e.g. about 1.2 at least. E.g. in Word 2007,
- 1.15 is the default I believe. to be controversial.
- Sans serif: Verdana (a humanist font) or Arial
- Serif: Georgia
- Some references for studies and research done on fonts.
- “two roles for type: a functional role (relating to legibility) and an aesthetic/semantic role, which impacts the “apparent ‘fitness’ or ‘suitability’ for different functions, and which imbue it with the power to evoke in the perceiver certain emotional and cognitive response” (p. 38)””
- In her study: Calibri came out as a winner against Courier New and Curlz.
- GCR: Very exciting and interesting with good links
- People take Calibri seriously via this study.
- Study showing how people emotionally react to certain fonts.
- Young people like serif; older like sans-serif.
- Links to papers on font readability.
- Serif: Georgia. It was designed especially for screen. Other options are listed.
- Sans-Serif: Tahoma. Geneva, Tahoma, and Verdana were designed especially for the screen. Tahoma in particular is cited for legibility. Another pick: Lucida Sans Unicode: Cited as remarkably legible for some reason.
- Monospaced: Monaco/Lucida Console.
- GCR: Great article.
- Another study, unsure what to conclude from it.
- Excellent details.
- Tahoma and Verdana, sans-serifs, were designed specifically for viewing on computer screens. J, I, and 1 were made distinguishable. Tahoma is wider than Verdana.
- Great article but leaves so many questions and stuff unanswered and explored.
- Big fonts generally don’t matter and are easy to read.
- Tahoma is well-read.
- Verdana and Georgia have good legibility.
- Whole other range of evaluations: personality, elegant, youthful and fun, business-like,
- Most legible: Courier, Comic, Verdana, Georgia, and Times.
- Current state of technology along with aging-eyes means that sans-serif is the best option
- Emacs suggest mono-spaced fonts for coding
- Experienced teaches me that Unicode support is mandatory
- Prefer fonts that focus on legibility over emotional evocation
- Results: Verdana, Calibri, Tahoma, Lucida Sans Unicode, Lucida Sans
- Notes: Best Unicode Fonts for Programming
- DejaVu Sans Mono: best Unicode support
- Based on Andale Mono, a monospaced san-serif designed for coding
- What are the best programming fonts?
- Tons of coding related fonts. Why not for reading?!
- Source Code Pro is highest ranked, then Consolas, and Monaco
- Font Survey: 42 of the Best Monospaced Programming Fonts
- The options, although only 42, are insanely overwhelming.
- There isn’t a ton of digestible info available on Unicode support for the fonts that I listed.
- I am recalling now that my original selection of DejaVu Sans Mono was specifically for its excellent Unicode support; specifically that it had better support than Lucida Console which is monospaced but lacked characters and looks at least as nice.
- Seems like it is just haphazard and quasi-scientific how people are choosing fonts; and maybe even designing them.
- Founds evidence that Lucida is just fine for display; and thus DejaVu Sans Mono is fine for display.
- DejaVu Sans Mono is the best available font for computer work.