Believe it or not, the letters and words on your computer screen are actually formed by fuzzy beams of light and are much harder to read than print on a page. Readability, both visually and conceptually, will affect how your customer reacts to your marketing, especially online. It is pretty obvious that your marketing message must speak to your target market to be successful! But beyond that, you need to consider how to minimize eye strain so your customer can absorb your message easily and clearly. The size and style of a type font is what will either help or hinder this readability. So, what makes a type font readable?

There are basically two types of fonts to use in text. The first is classified as a “serif font” and its characters include small decorative strokes going off the ending lines of a letter. “Sans-serif fonts” don’t have these decorative strokes and the most common is Helvetica which comes in a large range of weights and widths. The type you’re reading now, in our blog, is a sans-serif face.

Serif fonts are more traditional and are usually easier to read than sans-serif fonts, but the exception to this rule is made when it comes to the web. Computer screens are lower resolution which makes a serif font look chunky or fuzzy and hard to read on a screen because of the way the letter forms are converted into pixels. Everything has to do with the quality of a computer monitor, which can’t be controlled, so the more modern and cleaner looking san-serif fonts have become standard on the web.

The same serif font that may look fuzzy on a computer screen, may look really nice and easy to read when printed out on a high resolution printer. It is often said that serif’s help the eye connect letters in words making a printed sheet or book more readable, but I am not sure about that. In my experience as a designer, I think the readability of type has more to do with the effect of white space around a type and between letters, words and images. Less white space makes letter and word recognition harder and slower for the eye to read and comprehend.

There are many other factors to consider for readability including type alignment, spacing, type size, color, using capitalization and copy length or paragraph size. Overall, the best fonts to choose for readability are the ones that are broad or wide between letters which makes recognition and readability easier. It is important to remember that different fonts convey their own personalities which helps for branding purposes and any good designer will understand how, why and what to choose for your company.