Fonts: a love hate relationship

Put your hands up if you actually feel that fonts make a big difference!

Personally speaking, I HATE Times New Roman. It’s a Serif font, which means letters come with squiggly bits at the end of every letter. It’s the standard font in the USA, and pretty much everywhere else, especially for reports.

Here are some examples of serif fonts (in their own font). I typed them out and took a screenshot.

I prefer sans-serif fonts! Cleaner, easier, prettier! Arial and Helvetica are my personal favourites.
Here are some examples of sans-serif (in their own font), which I typed out too.

Does it matter? Serif, Sans serif? What’s the big idea? As long as it’s readable (unlike wing dings), it’s fine, right?

It actually makes a difference.
Serif is usually used for printed work, because the little lines and squiggles help make letters more individual, more recognizable. It makes each letter more distinctive.

Sans serif, on the other hand, is better for online work. This sounds really technical, but printed words have at least 1000dpi (dots per inch), while online words has a dpi of less than 100. Because the resolution is smaller, it makes serif characters harder to read, due to its complex shape (lines and squiggles).

FYI: for images, printed images have at least 300dpi, online images are usually 72dpi

FONTSPEAK: which font is the most used for brands?
-durmroll- HELVETICA! HOORAY, A SAN SERIF FONT! –throws confetti in the air-

I won’t go on about the research of the most commonly used font, but here are some really recognizable brands using Helvetica. Clicking on the images opens in a new tab. All photos are from the web page itself.


So the next time you look at notices, designs, or anything that uses lettering, stop and ponder if the font used helped to make reading better. (= If not, how else could the message be conveyed better?

Ps: yes, I’m really glad my font layout in this blog is sans-serif.


14 responses to “Fonts: a love hate relationship

  1. Hello!

    This post really got me thinking. I never thought there was so much to know about fonts. Interesting notes.. =)

  2. Myself I actually prefer serif fonts because of their distinction form one letter to the next it stops sentences from turning into lines. But I think most important in designing in terms of font would probably be the message you want to send across whether it is fun and informal or serious and formal.

    That said, there are new fonts coming up that fall somewhere in between the fun and serious serif/sans fonts; fonts that are sans but offer seriousness and vice-versa

    • Ah yes from afar, it really does help make reading on print easier. And I do agree that fonts can help make or break your design..

      By fun fonts, I take that you’re referring to the Chalkboard type?

  3. You’re right…. It really makes a difference to me when I have to submit my report in times new roman font vs arial

  4. Heys…

    That’s an interesting read 🙂

    I didn’t realise those brands are in Helvetica. I love Helvetica too.

    I think I should be more selective with the font I use for my resume next time. Haha….

    • Hi pan!
      thanks (= Yea I guess we don’t scrutinise each and every font and go “oh what font is this” unless it’s really apparant (like Bauhaus. I’ll blog about it soon so you can give it a read).

      Use an easy to read font! Serif! (=

  5. I prefer the san-serif fonts. Personal favourite is Calibri (: The serif font reminds me of Times New Romans and reports.

    By the way, the Harry Potter series makes uses of a serif font.

    • Hi! Awesome. More san-serif fonts! (= Yeah I guess serif fonts makes everyone remember their reports and essays..

      I’ve actually not noticed with regards to harry potter. Did you mean their printing for books, or their logo itself?

  6. LIl I think the font in my phone’s sans serif too

  7. M y sociology lecturer likes San serif too lol!

  8. Oh sorry to spam but I guess times new roman (like u said) is more for formalities. Arial seems too casual haha

    • Hi April..
      Oh I’ve not noticed phone fonts! I’m using an iphone 3gs, and it’s san serif. I guess a phone is like a “web” browser in that sense..

      Yeah maybe Arial is a lil casual, but I’ve actually used them in reports oops. :p As long as it’s standardised.. I’ve worked for companies who wanted their reports strictly to be Arial font size 11! Guess it depends on preference..

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