Online Viewing Font Choices

Back in the “Old Days”, when I was the editor of my high school newspaper, I would use the various fonts available for typesetting with reckless abandon. My personal favorite, Bodoni Bold, earned pride of place for many of the front page headlines during my tenure. As the world has evolved to more online viewing, graphic and web designers and others in the media offer their favorites for online viewing.

Generally, designers use sans serif fonts for online viewing. Sans serif fonts are ones without the tail or additional line.

San serif fonts tend to be crisper or cleaner than the serif. Serif fonts are used more extensively for offline or print viewing. There are exceptions, of course. If you are trying to set something off, such as for a headline, serif fonts could be employed. In general, serif fonts tend to be harder to read (at the same size) than san serif on a screen.

One note of caution is that your preferred font may be hampered by the browser. Generally, for text as opposed to graphics, you can only use fonts that all browsers have built in. If you use a font that a particular browser does not have, it will default to the browser’s default font. You may use whatever fancy font you like – for instance, that amazing font you found on an Italian site you came across last night – but no one will be able to see it in all of its glory. They’ll just see the default, Arial.

Here is a list of sans-serif fonts that are readable in all browsers. These are considered by many to be the standard for online viewing.

MS Sans Serif

Regarding font size, the recommended standard for online viewing for readability is 10, 11, or 12 point. As with most ‘recommendations’, personal preference, background, color, eyesight acuity, eye fatigue, page or column width may vary the choice. The choice for Micro devices can be challenging for those of us who remember the days before smart phones became so commonplace.

Sans serif fonts are optimal for your email marketing, website and other online viewing needs.