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10 Fascinating Scientific Facts About Fonts

By on May 2, 2016 in Design Trends
10 Fascinating Scientific Facts About Fonts

There is a lot more to the selection of fonts than meets the eye. For example, some fonts are more trustworthy than others. If you want to convey that you are an honest person, stick with Baskerville. If you own a restaurant, you can splash fancy fonts on your menu to give your new chef instant credibility.

Here are ten scientific facts about fonts that should help you in everyday life, or at least give you food for thought.

Fonts Can Make People Trust You

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Fact #1: Baskerville is a trustworthy font. Experiments show that people are more likely to believe information set in Baskerville, versus text in Georgia, Computer Modern, Helvetica, Comic Sans or Trebuchet. So, why Baskerville? Cornell University professor David Dunning thinks Baskerville has a British sense of formality and solemnity that enhances its credibility.

Fact #2: Fancier fonts are associated with more skill in certain professions; in one study, diners who received menus with fancy fonts assumed the chef had more skill. Diners who received menus with simpler fonts did not attribute as much skill to the chef. But…

Fact #3: These study results do not mean fancy is necessarily the best way to go. The same researchers found that when people were given a task, those who got fancy fonts estimated the task would take nearly twice as long.

Bottom line: use fancy fonts wisely!

Dyslexic? Try Helvetica

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Fact #4: If you're dyslexic, you're probably better off reading material set in Helvetica rather than, say, Comic Sans. If you prefer Courier, Arial, Verdana or Computer Modern Unicode, the good news is that those fonts should be relatively easy for you to read too. In short, look for sans-serif fonts with distinct letter spacing, line spacing of at least 1.5—and mind that the Ps and Qs are not merely the same letter facing a different direction.

Debates on Legibility

Fact #5: Serif typefaces are not necessarily easier to read, despite what one stereotype might purport. The fact is that pretty much any mainstream font is legible and easy to read for a huge majority of people. Whether the font is serif or sans-serif seems to be a nonissue.

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Twins Separated at Birth?

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Fact #6: Although Roboto appears more similar to Helvetica than Montserrat does, participants in one study were more likely to mistake Montserrat for Helvetica. While the reasons are not exactly clear, people are pretty good at telling font differences in very short amounts of times.

The Personality of Fonts

Fact #7: The top three fonts to reach people who have stable personalities are Times New Roman, Arial and Cambria; compared with Impact, Rockwell Xbold and Georgia for assertive people, and Gigi, Kristen and Rage Italic for creative types.

Fact #8: The same study as the one linked above shows that people attribute personality to fonts, except for Modern Display and Monospaced, which are the font equivalent of wallflowers.

It's worth your time to experiment with various fonts to see which best matches the personality of your target audience. Even among similar fonts, one may connect noticeably better.

Eco-friendly?

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Fact #9: Eco-fonts may not actually be saving money. While Ecofont won a design award in 2010, a University of Wisconsin study indicates that the fonts, including Ecofont Vera Sans, use more toner and ink than Century Gothic, a light and regular font.

Reading Speed

Fact #10: For optimal reading speed on the web, keep fonts at 10 points and above. Arial, Verdana, Georgia and Times New Roman all do equally well as far as reading speed goes.

Use Fonts Wisely

As these facts show, fonts can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Use them wisely, and don't be afraid to experiment—and to conduct studies!


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5 Comments

  1. Fascinating! So funny... among fonts listed w personality traits attributed, I tend to reach for Georgia and Gigi. I guess that means I'm assertive and creative?! lol

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