So you need a typeface?

April 23, 2010 at 3:54 am 3 comments

I was making the buttons for our website, pondering which font to use, when my colleague showed me this flow chart:

Although you may not agree with some of the results, I thought it was a pretty neat idea. There are thousands of typefaces out there and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming deciding which one to use. Sometimes you get a little tired of using Times New Roman or Arial.

To serif or not to serif?

As with everything, there are pros and cons to using serif and sans serif typefaces:

  • Serif typefaces are easier to read in print, as the serifs make it easier to differentiate the letters in your brain. They also help your eye move from one character to the next.
  • Sans serif typefaces are best when you are reading from a computer screen. This is because the resolution on a screen is not as good as a printed document, so the serifs can blur the text, making it harder to read.

Alternative choices

Here are a few alternative choices to Times New Roman and Arial:

Instead of… Why not try…
Times New Roman
  • Book Antiqua
  • Calisto
  • Centaur
  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • Perpetua
  • Calibri
  • Helvetica
  • Lucida Sans
  • Trebuchet
  • Verdana

Do you have any favourite typefaces? Are there any that you really can’t stand? What do you think of the flowchart?


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aaron  |  April 26, 2010 at 2:20 am

    How about some love for Semi-serif fonts like Halvar!. Ok maybe Halvar isn’t the greatest example cause it’s pretty ugly 🙂 . They either have slight hints of a serifs or only have serifs in upper case letter.

  • 2. Carys  |  April 26, 2010 at 2:24 am

    Halvar is pretty ugly, but I think the worst typeface is still Comic Sans! It irritates me when people use Comic Sans in Powerpoint presentations. It’s hard to read and looks unprofessional.

  • 3. Brian  |  April 26, 2010 at 3:18 am

    I think the problem is that there are too many fonts. A woman talking on the radio last weekend quoted some research that showed that shoppers were more likely to buy a pot of jam if they were offered six varieties than if they were offered many more varieties. Presumably, the difficulty of making a choice from a large selection was too much, so they moved on. With only six to choose between, the task was manageable, so they bought.

    This has parallels with Information Mapping, in which one is recommended to limit the number of (say) bullet points to 5-9.


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