Friday, May 26, 2017

What’s the Big Deal about Sans Serif Fonts?

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

As long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve heard the warning, “Never use anything but a sans serif font on your blog.”

I’d nod my head and look solemn, because, apparently, the use of sans serif fonts is a serious thing. Inside, I’m clueless. What in the world is a sans serif font? And, horror of horrors, is there such a thing as a serif font? Dare I even ask?

My ignorance finally hit a tipping point and pushed me over the edge to discovery. While you may have tucked this bit of information away long ago, there might be someone else out there as clueless as I am. So here’s what I’ve learned. Perhaps, in a single blog post, I’ll put the Sans Serif mystery to rest forever.

Question 1: What is a serif?

A serif is, for lack of a better term, a small hook or line at the end of a letter. Here’s an example of the serif font Georgia, complete with serifs at the edges of each letter.

Times New Roman is also a serif font. See the little hooks? See the pointy edges?

Question 2: What is sans serif?

Sans means “without.” Remember Shakespeare’s “My love for thee is sound, sans crack or flaw”? Or how your favorite vegetarian orders her omelet—“Sans bacon”? So a sans serif font is a font without the extra lines or serifs at the end of letters.

Some of the most common sans serif fonts are: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, and Verdana.

Question 3: So what’s the big deal?

Buildablog website, in its article, “What’sthe Best Font for Your Blog or Website?”, tells us, “Some monitors don’t display these little hooks (serifs) very well and they can become blurred or undistinguishable, particularly if the monitor has a low resolution.”

Question 4: Then why do most submission guides for publishing houses and magazines request submissions in Times New Roman?

Unlike computer monitors, printers do a great job of reproducing the little serifs. It’s safe to use them in any online documents that are intended for downloading and printing.

One of the clearest examples of the conflict between serif and sans serif fonts took place in, of all places, Microsoft. In 2007, the company replaced the serif font, Times New Roman, with the sans serif font, Calibri, in its popular word processing software, Microsoft Office 2007.

When asked why the company decided to make the change, Joe Friend, Microsoft Senior Programmer, said, “We believed that more and more documents would never be printed but would solely be consumed on a digital device. To support digital consumption the new fonts were created to improve screen readability.”

So there you have it—mystery solved. When composing for primarily online readership, use a sans serif font like Arial, Impact, MS Sans Serif, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, or Lucida Sans. When writing a piece intended for downloading and printing, use the classic serif font, Times New Roman.

With this mystery under my belt, I’m on to one requiring even more in-depth investigative reporting. Next time I hope to answer the question, Why do I always write better with chocolate?

TWEETABLE

Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of two devotional books, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women and  Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

19 comments:

  1. Lori, while I knew what they were, I didn't know the WHY. Thank you!

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  2. I can answer the chocolate question - Because the release of endorphins in your brain caused by consuming chocolate associates writing with "pleasant joy."
    Thanks solving the mystery on the font applications.

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    1. YESSSSS! But now I don't have the pleasure of doing extensive research on the topic :(

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    2. There's always the next project, and more chocolate

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  3. Thanks for the enlightenment! And I have the answer to your next question. Because chocolate is good! And I just learned I can eat chocolate instead and do away with my medicine for atrial fib!

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    1. Sweet! That makes me almost want to have a-fib, Pat ... but only almost. :)

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  4. I guess, I've been doing it wrong for a very long time. I have never heard any of this. Thanks for the info.

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    1. I was as clueless as you, Kimberly. Glad we learned together :)

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  5. Superb investigative reporting, Lori! I love a good mystery and good chocolate (with coffee of course). Thanks for sharing your findings with us. Always learning!

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  6. I knew micro soft had changed, but I didn't know why. Just this morning I was reminding myself that I can't know everything, but hey, now I know more. Thank goodness we have each other to learn from.
    Blessings

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    1. As iron sharpens iron, Jennifer. Every day is a new chance to learn. Glad we're in this together.

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  7. Thank you, Lori! I never knew and yet, I'd see the directive and nod in agreeance and wander off clueless.

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    1. Glad I wasn't alone, Diane. But now we have no excuse!

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  8. thanks (?) Lori. i, too, never knew the why. now that I do, i reckon i'll get on board with a sans-font - but i don't likes it!!! i likes my times new roman!!! oh, and ALLLL of my docs are formatted in TNR!!! so ALLLLL of my docs will have to be changed to either the Lucida or Trebuchet.... oy vey

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  9. Welllllll, keep in mind the purpose of each doc. Anything that will be primarily print can certainly stay in your beloved TNR. Be brave!

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  10. This was super good!!! Garamond is one of my fave fonts!

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  11. Such great info as usual, Lori. I personally love Cambria. :)

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