Which Font Is Easiest to Read on Paper?

by Stephanie Maatta

In printing and publishing, the word “font” refers to the typeface used to create printed characters. A font is selected to provide readability and to relay information through the text. There are two types of fonts: serif and sans serif.

Types

Serifs appear as small lines on the tops and bottoms of characters.

Serif is a typography term used to describe the ornamentation on characters. Serifs appear on the tops and bottoms of individual characters forming perpendicular feet. Serif fonts include Bookman Old Style, Courier, Garamond, and Times New Roman. Sans serif fonts do not include any type of ornamentation on the characters. They appear as straight lines without any flourishes. Some have curved tops to appear softer and friendlier when reading. The sans serif fonts include Arial, Calibri, Franklin Gothic, and Helvetica.

Reading Benefits

Fonts provide different benefits to the reader.

Sans serif fonts produce characters that are easy to distinguish in print, creating text that is clean and readable, making them better for younger, beginning readers, according to SIL International. Serif fonts are used to help draw the reader’s eyes in a straight line by following the direction of the ornamental line, making them an ideal choice for more experienced readers.

Font Size

Larger typefaces are easier to read on paper.

Size has a role in how easy a font is for reading. Font size refers to how small or large the characters appear in print. Large, clear text on paper is the easiest to read. Using a larger-sized font makes serif fonts easier to read, and improves the document’s appearance.

About the Author

Stephanie Maatta has been a writer for more than 10 years, with articles published in professional journals including "Library Journal" and "Reference Librarian." Many of her publications focus on professional development and career advising. Maatta holds a Ph.D. and Master of Science in library and information science from Florida State University.

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