We have seen the future, and it sucks.

The Serif Readability Myth

23rd January 2013

Read it.

I’ve been involved in publishing all my life, and like many others I’ve always accepted as axiomatic the notion that typefaces with serifs (such as Times-Roman) are, in general, are more readable than non-serif typefaces (e.g., Helvetica). It never occurred to me that there was any doubt about the matter. Were the monks who invented serifs and other text ornamentations merely engaging in idle doodling? Weren’t they consciously intending to increase the legibility of the important documents they were transcribing?

It turns out that, as with so many of the things we “know” are right, the idea that serif typefaces are more readable than non-serif typefaces simply isn’t supported by the evidence.

One Response to “The Serif Readability Myth”

  1. Cathy Sims Says:

    The evidence may be against it, but I personally find a serif font, as long as it doesn’t get crazy, to be easier to read. And, yes, I realize that the plural of anecdote is not data.