Microsoft

Fonts -- to serif or not to serif

Deciding which font to use might seem like a simple design issue. However, studies show that serif and san serif each improves reading skills in specific media.

You've probably seen the term serif before, and you might even know what it means: A serif is the small detail, or tail, that extends from the end of the core strokes that comprise alpha characters. A sans serif font doesn't have these details.november2008blog2fig1r.jpg

When choosing a font, be sure to consider how readers will view the document:

  • A serif font is easier to read in print, such as reports, books, catalogs, and newspapers.
  • A sans serif font is easier to read on a computer screen, such as fill-in forms and Web pages.

Experts theorize that the serif details help people read groups of words instead of single words. This seems to work well in print but not on screen.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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