Fonts for Proposals, Reports, and Probably Websites TooI used to work at The Sacramento Union, a major daily newspaper. It is the same place Samuel Clemens worked under the moniker, Mark Twain. (We DID NOT work there at the same time.)
The typsetters there taught me that certain fonts were used for specific purposes and I’ve been teaching this ever since.
Marketing Sherpa posted about this today, and included some specific numbers on comprehension:
“In 1984, the Newspaper Ad Bureau of Australia published a research pamphlet that should have been laminated and hung on the walls of every single marketing art department in the world.I can add the fact that there are two aspects to page layout and font selection which will enhance or degrade your document.
In fact, to this day I think every graphic designer should be forced to take a quiz on this data before you allow them anywhere near your marketing design project.
Why? Because it spells out what typefaces and layout design people can read most easily … and what’s nearly impossible for the human eye to comprehend.
For example: Headlines set in Times New Roman upper and lower case have a 92% comprehension rate. However, headlines in sans serif type (think Arial) all caps cause a 59% drop in comprehension rate.
Another example: Reverse type, such as white lettering on a black background, has 0% good comprehension (that’s right, zero.) Ink colors, such as bright red on a white background, aren’t much better at 10% good comprehension.”
Comprehension is the depth of understanding attained by the reader. So using serif fonts (such as Times New Roman) for your text enhances the reader’s comprehension. Your reader will have a more complete understanding of your document.
Legibility is the ability to understand/read lettering at speed or from a distance. San Serif fonts (such as Arial) were invented for restroom signs in German Train Stations.
Therefore, if you want the message to be delivered to a reader who is scanning or flipping pages, your headings in san serif font will better accomplish this than serif fonts. Your reader will more quickly find/see the heading.
Reversed text (white on colored field) is nasty for comprehension, and will actually reduce comprehension of surrounding text. Avoid this unless you want to reduce comprehension of some report, brochure or proposal. (Which you may have reason to want to do.)
Marketing Sherpa cited a book that documents the research that proves why you need to use care: Type & Layout: Are You Communicating or Just Making Pretty Shapes’ by Colin Wheildon
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