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Are Your Brochures, Flyers, Emails and Website Really Delivering Your Message - or Does Choosing the Wrong Font Kill Their Effectiveness?

When you create a brochure, flyer or sales letter you consider what the content will be, how the layout will look and then you get a graphic designer to make it "look good".

The reason you do this is because if it looks good, more people will read it ... right?

Well, maybe.

Have you ever considered that it could in fact be the font style you use that actually dictates how well a written document gets read and understood?

In this article we look at two studies that will demonstrate there’s more to picking font style than just your personal preference, or that of your graphic designer.

Serif vs Sans Serif

Serif vs Sans Serif

Have you noticed that most newspapers, serious magazines and books are almost always written in a serif font ... fonts with horizontal lines on the top and bottom, for example Times New Roman and Bookman?

This isn’t just coincidence.

According to Colin Wheildon, in his publication “Communicating ... or just making pretty shapes”, you can easily lose half your readers or more by choosing a sans serif font rather than a serif font as the following table shows:

Table 1: Font Style Impact on Reader Comprehension on paper

Comprehension Level                   Good    Fair    Poor
Layout with serif body type               67%     19%    14%
Layout with sans serif body type        12%     23%    65%

(Note that these figures relate to body copy. As a general rule, use serif fonts for your body copy and sans serif fonts for headlines).

On printed page, the "feet" and "hats" that we see on Serif fonts create rails for our eyes to run along as we read across the page, whereas San Serif fonts tend to create a series of vertical lines which interrupt the smooth path of your eye across the page.

Another very interesting study shows that this all changes when it comes to screen generated copy such as web pages or emails.

A study conducted by Dr. Ralph F Wilson, shows that 'on screen' San Serif fonts are much more effective than Serif fonts.

Dr Wilson conducted a study comparing the readability of the two fonts on screen, he used Times New Roman 12pt vs Arial 12pt and these were the results:

Table 2: Screen readability and understanding

Lorem ipsum frangali puttuto      Lorem ipsum frangali puttuto 
rigali fortuitous confulence         rigali fortuitous confulence
magficati alorem.
                    magficati alorem.
Lorem ipsum frangali puttuto      Lorem ipsum frangali puttuto
rigali fortuitous confulence         rigali fortuitous confulence
magficati alorem.                    magficati alorem.

Times New Roman 12 pt                Arial 12 pt
             520                                            1123
             32%                                           68%

As you can see, 68% of readers 'online' perferred Sans Serif to Serif which is a completely different outcome to the printed page results.

The main reason for this seems to be that the computer screen is a much different medium than the printed page. For one thing, the resolution is a lot less, about 72 dots per inch (dpi) for the computer screen vs. 180 dpi or 300 dpi or even higher for printed matter.

Dr Wilson conducted many more studies comparing the readability of two popular Sans Serif fonts, Arial and Verdana.

Table 3: Screen readability and understanding of Arial and Verdana

Lorem ipsum frangali             Lorem ipsum frangali
puttuto rigali fortuitous            puttuto rigali fortuitous
confulence magficati              confulence magficati alorem.                                alorem. 
Lorem ipsum frangali             Lorem ipsum frangali
puttuto rigali fortuitous            puttuto rigali fortuitous
confulence magficati              confulence magficati
alorem.                                alorem.

              Arial 12 pt                                   Verdana 12 pt
                     415                                                   283
                     59%                                                 40%

Lorem ipsum frangali puttuto          Lorem ipsum frangali puttuto
rigali fortuitous confulence             rigali fortuitous confulence
magficati alorem.                       magficati alorem. 
Lorem ipsum frangali puttuto          Lorem ipsum frangali puttuto
rigali fortuitous confulence             rigali fortuitous confulence
magficati alorem.                       magficati alorem.

              Arial 10 pt                                    Verdana 10 pt
                     239                                                     456
                     34%                                                   64%

Lorem ipsum frangali puttuto               Lorem ipsum frangali puttuto
rigali fortuitous confulence                 rigali fortuitous confulence
magficati alorem.                          magficati alorem. 
Lorem ipsum frangali puttuto               Lorem ipsum frangali puttuto
rigali fortuitous confulence                 rigali fortuitous confulence
magficati alorem.                          magficati alorem.

     Arial 9 pt                                       Verdana 9 pt
           152                                                     527
           21%                                                   74%

 

As Verdana has a much more open letter and takes up more space than Arial, it is much easier to read on screen, but at 12 pt. respondents still showed some preference for Arial (59%) over Verdana (40%).

And the conclusion he came to was that for body copy Verdana 10pt and below is more comprehensible and for headlines it is better to use Arial 12pt and above.  

Very few graphic designers and marketers understand the importance of using the two font styles correctly, but virtually all publishers and communication designers understand how important font style is to being able to keep readers reading.

A quick look at today's newspapers and most popular publishers websites such as www.bbc.co.uk and www.timesonline.co.uk will show you which font styles communication professionals choose for their body copy. These are people whose jobs and careers depend on keeping readers reading.

When we work on our clients marketing collateral and create their website or email marketing campaigns, we work hard at choosing and applying the right font style ... as ultimately you want your message read and understood so that it produces the results you want.

If you would like to find out how Results Corporation can help you get more quality sales, contact us online now or call us on 01536 747 310.

You can find more articles like this in our Marketing Foundations section.

You'll also find other useful articles in Generating Leads, Online Marketing, Converting Prospects, Increase Transaction Value and Increase Purchase Frequency.



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