Preparing PPTs, Word docs, posters, reports, specs, writing blogs, mails. The list continues. When you come across these situations daily, do you wonder "Which font is the best? Should I use Book Antiqua or Trebuchet MS?" If yes, read on. 

I like using the right fonts and hence found out more about legible and readable fonts from books, websites and experimentation. Here it goes.


The commonly used fonts (i.e. save some designer/cursive/script fonts) fall under one of two families: serif or sans serif. Serif fonts (ex: Typefaces like Garamond, Times, Baskerville) have bent or curved edges, which leads our eyes naturally to the next alphabet. They are the most readable fonts in print. Thats why you see that newspapers, magazines and books are printed in serif fonts. Sans serif fonts (ex: Typefaces like Arial, Verdana, Tahoma) have no curved edges and almost equally wide letters (like the one used here). There are other families however, but such fonts are generally not used for body text and used only for titles or in special cases.

8 Guidelines:

  1. At low resolution, sans-serif fonts are best. So, use them in presentations or blogs, which are supposed to be read on screen. To verify, read my first post in this blog. The first one uses Garamond (serif) and this one Verdana (sans-serif). Decide for yourself.
  2. At high resolution, it is proven that serif fonts are most readable. A case in point, newspapers and magazines are printed in serif fonts. So, use serif fonts in body copy that'll be printed.
  3. Readability always decreases in reverse (white text on black b/g). Try not to use it. To convince yourself, read this blog and some other one with black b/g.
  5. Italics makes text very difficult to read rather than highlighting it. Use Bold for highlighting and italics very sparingly.
  6. Body with Drop caps looks very nice. Use it for the first letter of the document. FYI, in Word 2003, Drop Cap is present in Format menu and in Word 2007 beta, Drop Cap is present in the Insert ribbon.
  7. Decide on the right font size. The most readable font size differs for every typeface, choose the correct one. While writing blogs especially, check preview if WYSIWYG.
  8. Narrow columns are more readable than wide ones. If you've an option, make the body text 2 or 3 column rather than 1.


P.S: I know that for this post, ideally font size should have been a little bigger but don't have a choice with this editor. If I modify the HTML code to increase text size, the spacing b/n lines becomes too less rendering it unreadable. :((