A story about fonts

While creating this blog, I had to make many decisions about layout, color, etc. and finally font. But I’m a pragmatic. I want usability, and my most important design goal is all about KISS! Yet, simple to read and navigate doesn’t necessarily mean simple to create…

Text body font

So I’ve spent some time researching about fonts and what I found is… a real mess! There are many studies, not all of them comparing the same fonts, and not all of them getting the same results.

Yet, there seemed to be a certain consensus that put Verdana quite high on the list. This study (pdf) by Tomás García Ferrari and Carolina Short from the University of Buenos Aires for example, puts it a clear winner in speed of reading, comprehension and even subjective appreciation. Unfortunately, I could not find much comparison to Microsoft’s not-so-new-anymore ClearType fonts. Some of these such as Calibri and Corbel seem quite readable, but without the data to back it up, choosing them would be just like optimizing without a profiler.

Code samples font

When it comes to programming fonts, the metrics that tell how good a font is are totally different. We don’t read it horizontally, we scan code in every direction, spotting uses of variables, grouping instructions together, etc. The best measure would be popularity. And even there, programmers tend to be quite territorial with their editor’s font. There is no concensus.

There are basically three fonts to choose from which are widely installed enough to make them worth thinking about: Courier New, Lucida Console and Consolas. My personal favorite is Consolas, but this CodeProject survey shows people prefer Courier New. I cannot understand this choice, and I’m not the only one (just look at the comments), but I want the most popular and there it is : Courier New.

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