Fonts matter. Consciously or not, we make typographic choices every day.
We enjoy having choices that our ancestors could not have dreamed of. From the debut of the printing press six centuries ago until the internet brought forth our digital lives around 40 years ago, typesetters defined the lens through which we read, well, everything.
Today, we have myriad choices in what, where, and how we consume information, the simplest form of which might be familiar to my middle-aged peers. Invariably, you will reach a point in life where you must increase the font size on your devices so much that your younger self could read it a room away. Oh, you’ll protest— but behold the joy of a reading experience free of squinting and headaches!
In a recent thought-provoking interactive, The Washington Post points out that, when it comes to text, it’s not just about size. Adjusting the actual font can make a world of difference, not only in how you see the information, but how you receive and process it. Science and a bit of biology lie behind our type preferences. A recent study says that picking the right font for you can increase your screen reading speed by 35%.
Designers are well-versed in choosing typefaces that convey feeling, translate meaning and purpose, and serve as a foundation for brand recognition. But when it comes to personal font choices, what we prefer aesthetically and what works best for us often can be different fonts.
How do you figure out what fonts work for you? The Washington Post article’s three exercises will start you on the path to discerning which fonts help you better scan, read, and comprehend the text you come across in life. Read the interactive story here.
Once you’ve determined your basic preferences, Readability Matters, a nonprofit dedicated to better reading outcomes for children and adults, has a tool to help you dig deeper. Check out their Readability Features Sandbox.