Font Selection

There are several things you should take into consideration when selecting which fonts to use for your writing project.

1)  What fonts will your reader likely have installed on the computer?
Some fancy lettering might look good or seem impressive, but if the recipient’s computer cannot display it because it is not installed, it will default to something more common. So use common fonts like Arial, Times Roman, or Calibri.

2)  How old is your audience?
Children require an uncomplicated font that is easy to read. Senior citizens require larger fonts (11 or 12 point type) with a clear, old-school typeface. Many experienced oil industry people fall into that latter category.

3)  How many fonts are needed?
Standard Engineer’s Answer: That depends.
Generally only a few fonts are needed, or even one family of fonts (e.g., Arial, Arial Narrow, Arial Black). Too many fonts can look busy and confusing, but having headlines be one font and the body text be another font is usually OK. It’s also good to use a different font or type size for captions and tables to distinguish them from the rest of the report.

4)  Should I use serif or sans serif fonts?
First, what the heck is a serif? No, it’s not an angel (that’s a seraph). Serifs are little feet at the bottom of a letter.

The Arial and Calibri fonts have no little feet or serifs, so it would be sans (French for “without”) serif. Sans serif fonts are especially good for big headlines, as are narrow fonts.

Times New Roman (like this) has serifs at the bottom of the letters. This makes the T look like it has a little platform or base. Such a serif font is quite legible and good for body text, but not as good for big headlines.

5)  Will the finished product be printed, or merely read on a computer screen?
If you are printing using letterpress, screen printing, embossing, or thermography, some fonts with very thin areas on the letters or very small openings in the letters might not come out as well as others. It’s best to do a test sample with the paper or T-shirt to be used in such cases. But for digital or offset printing with regular paper, you probably don’t have to
worry about which font to use, as long as the printer has it installed on the printing machine.

As for reading on the computer, just use a common font, as mentioned in #1. The reader can always change the font in Word to make it bigger or use a preferred, more legible font, but once it’s in a PDF document, most people have to settle for the font chosen by the author.

Profound Quote of the Day:

“Technology no longer consists just of hardware or software or even services, but of communities.
Increasingly, community is a part of technology, a driver of technology, and an emergent effect of technology.”
–  Howard Rheingold, American technology guru, b. 1947


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