With a flourish. Or not?

Sans Serif -  Sans Excuse …

Once upon a time you could judge a person by their hand-writing. Very useful. Especially if marriage or business was proposed. These days, we have few calligraphic references to fall back upon. So can we judge a character from their typography instead?

Indeed we can. As in life, there are those who shout at us. There are those who bombard us with a cacophany of visual dissonance. (Or, as we say in Yorkshire: “a right eyeful.”) And there are kindly souls who speak calmly.

Calligraphically, or fontagraphically, how do we make the best choices when selecting a font for web pages?

The rule of thumb, or more accurately, “the rule of eye” is to steer away from Serif Fonts. (Fonts with elaborate “flourishes.”) In print, we use serif fonts for large blocks of copy; on the screen, sans serif fonts are much easier to read.

Computer monitors cannot mirror the resolution as quality paper. So, when your readers view a page of serif font on the screen, the serifs can blur together and make the text harder to read.

Serifs, in print, make copy easier to read, as they allow readers to differentiate the letters more clearly. As print has a higher resolution, these serifs can be seen more clearly and thus do not appear to blur together.

Some examples of serif fonts are:

  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • New York
  • Times
  • Times New Roman

Some examples of sans-serif fonts (those without flourishes) are:

  • Arial
  • Geneva
  • Helvetica
  • Lucida Sans
  • Trebuchet
  • Verdana



  1. Stick to your chosen fonts on each and every page.
  2. Don’t change the font in mid sentence unless you have a very good reason. Insanity would be a good excuse.
  3. Sans serif for on-line, serif for print.
  4. Monospace for typewriter and code.
  5. Script and fantasy for accents.

Web-Safe fonts are fonts which are likely to be present on a wide range of computers. They are used by web editors to ensure that the web content is almost always displayed in the font of choice. If a visitor does not have that specified font, their browser will pick a similar alternative, based on the author-specified fallback fonts.

Aim to choose fonts that:

-    Fit the character of your site.

-    Are widely available with many browsers and operating systems.

-    Are easy to read on any computer screen.

If in doubt, carry out usability testing before launching your website to confirm that you are enabling the maximum number of readers to enjoy your content. Without excessive flourish.


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