Most people care about their typefaces
Appearances matter, especially whether fonts have serifs or not.
"Font Wars Spread After State Department Replaces Times New Roman with Calibri
"'I'm banging my head against the wall;' camps divided in fallout from government efforts to make documents easier to read"
By Katie Deighton, WSJ (3/14/23)
One wonders whether it is a matter of functionality and efficiency or esthetics and taste. Whatever motivates the confrontation, one thing is evident, and that is that people have deeply held opinions in favor of / against one side or the other.
What sounds like a typeface tempest-in-a-teapot has boiled over in the U.S. and U.K., where changes in document requirements have set off a war of words among cantankerous font factions.
The State Department announced in January that Calibri would replace Times New Roman on official documents to make them easier to read. U.K.’s Home Office, for similar reasons, x-ed out the 83-year-old Times New Roman, which has the wings and feet on letters known as serif style.
“For every study out there that says that sans serifs are more legible than serifs, you’re going to find an opposite study,” said Maria Lindenfeldar, the creative director at Princeton University Press in New Jersey.
A 2017 study published in the scientific journal Annals of Dyslexia found that text in Dyslexie, a typeface designed to make reading easier for people with dyslexia, didn’t test any better—whether measured by speed or accuracy—than words in Times New Roman.
Some typeface executives say that, in fact, the serif flourish makes letters easier to distinguish. They cite the identical appearance in some Calibri fonts of the lowercase “l,” as in look, and uppercase “I,” as in India.
The serif versus sans-serif debate extends to nonverbal communication.
Typographer Sarah Hyndman, author of the book “Why Fonts Matter,” found that people saw serif typefaces such as Times New Roman embodying “traditional,” “conventional” and “trustworthy” values, she said; Calibri and other sans-serif typefaces were seen as “confident,” “friendly,” and “honest.”
Rebecca Creed, a Florida-based appellate attorney, had in the past used Times New Roman or Courier New for court briefs and other legal documents. In 2021, the Florida Supreme Court adopted a rule requiring Arial or Bookman Old Style, chosen for their readability on screens, for computer-generated documents.
At Ms. Creed’s law firm, Bookman Old Style won out.
“We just liked the way it looked,” she said. “That sounds dumb, but it’s really just what it came down to.”
Chacun à son goût.