Although often overlooked, font choice says a lot about how a brand wants to be perceived, and can be a deciding factor for people being able to read the message. With consumers having so much choice, first impressions are becoming increasingly more important to get right, so even the seemingly small things such as font can contribute to their decision. There are two main font types which have subtle yet important differences, which are serif and sans-serif fonts.
Serif fonts have decorative finishing strokes, giving flair to the end of a typeface. The font Georgia is a well-known serif font, as it is often used in books, as well as Times New Roman. Sans-serif fonts have no flourishes, they are simple and precise. Two well-known fonts in this category are Arial, and Calibri, a default Microsoft Word font.
The research that is currently out there is very contradictory. Even though the consensus among researchers is that sans-serif fonts are attributed with higher levels of readability, research differs regarding the results. Bernard, Liao and Mills find that people can read serif fonts faster, however they also find a higher preference for sans-serif fonts. The search for a conclusive answer has been ongoing since typesetting came about in the 1890’s. With this in mind, font choice may just be down to preference, or at least what marketers ‘feel’ consumers will like the most. As fonts are a way of adding flair to a brand, the choice of font may also be how marketers want their brand to be portrayed.
Our take on it, based purely around the design of the fonts, is that sans-serif is more suitable for digital screens. Although the research lacks clarity on which is more effective, the underlying design of the two fonts is what is swaying us to recommend sans-serif. They are unobtrusive and clear, giving the text a clean, easy-to-read finish, whereas serif fonts have that little bit extra that can lead to deviation away from the message, and we want to make sure our clients have the clearest content possible! We also make sure to keep the DPI (dots per inch) higher when using serif fonts as this creates space to prevent the flourishes overlapping.