When I was younger I agreed with Lib’s initial view that serif’s time was done. Why mess up the alphabet with extra doo-dads that do not add to the comprehension of the text?
As time went on, however, I ran across numerous articles and studies showing that serif fonts do indeed have a use. As reported previously in this thread, serif fonts really are easier to read on paper. If and when screen resolution improves drastically above today’s standards, we may even see this effect transfer to the screen.
Oh, and Lib, your last link (Font Family Page) doesn’t prove what you think it does. Look at the capital “I” and lower case “l” (“ell”) (they don’t show “1” unfortunately). I think you’ll find this “sans-serif” font does actually have serifs where it absolutely needs them.
Oh, and lno … l know l know … l’ll try to do better.
one writer is cited as saying, “Conventional Graphic Design wisdom holds that text set in a serif face is more readable than sans-serif text, but sans-serif text is more legible. The distinction has to do with the granularity of recognition. Serif type gives the eye more visual clues to allow words to be recognized (read) in one chunk. Sans-serif type is easier to read glyph-by-glyph.”
As far as I know (so I’m speaking epistemically here), legible and readable are synonyms.
Certainly Roget would agree that both words are the same, but your quote isn’t using them as synonyms. It says (paraphrased) “For those who can read, serifs are good. For those who can’t, going without is better.” (Maybe I paraphrase too freely. So sue me.) As paperbackwriter said above, serif fonts work well for body text and sans-serif for headings.
I’m sorry? Did you intend to say that I cannot read, or was it merely a careless response? I can read, and I do not believe that serifs are good. The reason for greater readability is not some inherent attribute of extra squiggles, but the mere fact that serifed glyphs tend to force the brain into a word-perception mode as opposed to a glyph-perception mode. The same thing ought to be achievable by means of kearning and tonality.
I’m writing this post in Tahoma, and you should notice that even though the lowercase “l” (ell) is a simple vertical stroke, both the capital “I” (eye) and the numeral “1” (one) have horizontal finishing strokes – meaning, once again, that serifs are added when necessary, even in a sans-serif typeface.
Though he says “most common text faces have about the same inherent legibility,” the examples he gives under legibility usually use sans-serif typefaces, whereas most long-passage text is printed with serif types; these probably just go towards buttressing the claims made the writer you quoted from your cite. FWIW, Robin Williams (no, not that one), who also has written a number of books on typography, says “[t]he most readable typefaces are the classic, oldstyle serif faces.”
Well, no. Roman refers to both the roman alphabet, and roman as opposed to italic. (In the same confusing way, there’s a fraktur type of fraktur. …Which is one, but not both kinds of roman.) And there’s the Roman capitals–big R this time.
I believe Ms. Williams is referring to roman vs. italic in her statement, and I think the confusion you pointed out is what has tripped up Libertarian in his OP. But if he really wants for Rome to be defeated, then we’ll have to do away with the entire Roman alphabet, and I don’t know what he has in mind as its replacement.
I nor the vast majority of peole I’ve met writes write “a” like a. Mine lodoesnt have that top tail thingee. The 4 is rather weird to me too. Still no reason to get rid of them. Serifs, to me, just look better on paper. They do look rather silly on computer screens when large.
Reading vast chunks of text in sans serif gives me a headache. I have seen books set in sans serif fonts and it gets distracting and annoying very quickly. Most of the text on the internet tends to come in small chunks (this message board is a good example.) Hence sans serifs being ideal for this sort of environment.
There are other typographical rules that get broken when it comes to displaying fonts on-screen: White text on dark backgrounds are generally discouraged in print media. However, for CRTs and the such, there’s evidence to suggest that light text on a dark background improves legibility. And it makes sense to me: Black ink tends to bleed into white letterforms, making fonts appear smaller and usually harder-to-read in print. On screen, the white letters bleed out into the black, making them look bigger.
Also, the mixed style that a lot of newspapers generally use: serifs for body text, sans serifs for headlines, help to separate the functions of each type of text. Sure, there’s also a lot of serifs being used for headlines, but I can’t think of any newspaper that uses sans for body text.
But as has been mentioned, serifs seem to help our eye and brain distinguish word forms. Just like writing in all caps slows reading and comprehension down a tad, the data suggests that sans serifs, in large doses, do the same.
Serif fonts are easier to read and better-looking. What more do you need?
Sans serif fonts have only two uses: display/decorative fonts (like section headings, titles or dropped initial caps) and fonts that may eventually be arbitrarily scaled. An example of the latter is a label on a figure that is to be set as a “float” that is scaled to fit a predetermined width. If you scale a serif font by simply “blowing it up”, the serifs will look too big.
In the case of I versus l, some sans serif fonts (like the one used here) put a little curl at the bottom of the l to better distinguish it. I think it started in Europe. This is a very positive thing.
I used to work for a company that required all reports to be printed in Arial. The guy who came up with that probably beats his wife, too.