SERIF fonts 5X better than San Serif--Why aren't they used on WWW much?

Profile picture of the author saleswriter101 by saleswriter101 Posted: 12/10/2011
Hello all!

Legendary copywriter Joe Sugarman says (in 'Advert. Secrets of the Written Word' p.113) that SERIF fonts (ex. times new roman) perform FIVE TIMES better in legibility tests than 'sans serif' fonts (ex. arial, verdana).

I WONDER WHY almost all sales pages on the Web do NOT use serif fonts?

Any idea?
#fonts #san #serif #serifwhy #www

  • Profile picture of the author Andrew Gould
    Andrew Gould
    On screen, serif fonts tend to be harder to read because the lower resolution (72dpi compared to print at 300dpi) means the actual serifs take up more space and become distracting.

    If you did want to try a serif font, then go for something designed for the screen such as Georgia.
  • Profile picture of the author saleswriter101
    saleswriter101
    Originally Posted by Andrew Gould View Post
    On screen, serif fonts tend to be harder to read because the lower resolution (72dpi compared to print at 300dpi) means the actual serifs take up more space and become distracting.

    If you did want to try a serif font, then go for something designed for the screen such as Georgia.
    I'd been wondering about this for SO long. Thanks for the thorough answer. (:
  • Profile picture of the author Warrior X
    Warrior X
    I road the sans-serif train blindly until I read Lenny Eng's book (one of the very best about copywriting for the web.) He wrote that he had never seen a shred of real evidence saying that san-serif was more readable on a computer screen.

    I always intuitively liked the serif look better, but avoided it. No longer!

    -Jeremy

  • Profile picture of the author Andrew Gould
    Andrew Gould
    For a more scientific look at this, check out:

    Which Are More Legible: Serif or Sans Serif Typefaces? – alexpoole.info

    He comes to the same conclusion as Lenny, that there's no definitive proof one way or the other.

    Personally, Verdana's my "go to" font simply because I like its clean, modern look.

    And (to save someone else the trouble of typing it) you can easily test different fonts to make sure personal preference isn't getting in the way of maximum response.
  • Profile picture of the author Warrior X
    Warrior X
    Originally Posted by Andrew Gould View Post
    you can easily test different fonts to make sure personal preference isn't getting in the way of maximum response.
    Ah spoken like a true direct marketer.
    -Jeremy
  • Profile picture of the author KingOfContentMarketing
    KingOfContentMarketing
    Just a side note- Google has a collection of free webfonts here:
    Google Web Fonts

    Here is a WP plug-in with the same fonts:
    WordPress › WP Google Fonts « WordPress Plugins
  • Profile picture of the author OutOfThisWord
    OutOfThisWord
    It takes longer to read online (estimated 25% longer) than in print because of the imperceptible flicker of monitors.

    Do serifs slow that down even further? A lot of experts believe so.

    In my opinion, there is more to flicker.
  • Profile picture of the author awddude
    awddude
    Originally Posted by OutOfThisWord View Post
    It takes longer to read online (estimated 25% longer) than in print because of the imperceptible flicker of monitors.

    Do serifs slow that down even further? A lot of experts believe so.

    In my opinion, there is more to flicker.
    Very interesting.

    For our perceiving self, the flicker is imperceptible, but not for our visual system. The information travelling from the monitor to your eyes is going light-speed. Perhaps our visual system needs a little more work to filter through the flickering, decreasing our reading speed. At the same time, our perceiving self is completely unaware unless we test ourselves.

    The test I see on Wikipedia states:

    The average American adult reads prose text at 250 to 300 words per minute. While proofreading materials, people are able to read at 200 wpm on paper, and 180 wpm on a monitor. - Ziefle, M. (1998), Effects of display resolution on visual performance, Human Factors, 40(4), 555–568.
    Another test I read finds DPI and resolution critical to the debate. Because with low quality, visual fatigue incurs and decreases overall performance. But whatever is true, all sources agree that online reading is slower.

    This one vouches for 30% slower:
    http://users.soe.ucsc.edu/~srikur/fi...II_reading.pdf

    In their findings - 1 column of text decreased speed 32%, but when they arranged it into 3 columns of text, speed was only removed 11% from the paper reading speed.

    They suggest:
    • using bigger font sizes
    • high contrast between text and background
    • more research

    I should also note on LCDds the flicker is not an issue.

    ---
    Testing:

    Times New Roman:

    "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum."

    Georgia:

    "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum."


    Arial:

    "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum."

    Verdana:

    "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum."
  • Profile picture of the author thehorizon
    thehorizon
    I would vote for 12pt Cambria. Cambria's a transitional font made to read as a on-screen-font, has even spacings, proportions and is aesthetically pleasant to read. Especially long reports & scientific journals.

    Cambria was designed to join Calibri's design-interface and Times New Roman's Serif style and reads well on screen. I love either Georgia or Cambria on screen...

    Times New Roman on magazines, newspapers, and then for direct mail pieces, the classic Courier (Though I go with Courier New instead).

    If you notice, Sans Serif fonts tend to be harder to read the smaller the font is... so I'll definitely vote for a not-too-small Sans Serif like Calibri OR a "made for screen" Hybrid like Cambria.

    Serif fonts = definitely for comprehension purposes.
  • Profile picture of the author Profolegy
    Profolegy
    Is there a reason why Calibri 11p is the default font for Microsoft Word?
    Is it because they have done loads of testing?
  • Profile picture of the author MoneyMagnetMagnate
    MoneyMagnetMagnate
    Thanks for this discussion - very illuminating!

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