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11:7 Use Familiar Fonts

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 3 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 5 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Text and Styles


Use a familiar font to achieve the best possible reading speed.


Research shows no reliable differences in reading speed or user preferences for twelve point Times New Roman or Georgia (serif fonts), or Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana (sans serif fonts).


  • Bernard, M. & Mills, M. (2000). So, what size and type of font should I use on my Web site? Usability News, 2.2. Retrieved November 2005, from http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/2S/font.htm.
  • Bernard, M., Liao, C., & Mills, M. (2001a). Determining the best online font for older adults. Usability News, 3.1. Retrieved November 2005, from http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/3W/fontSR.htm.
  • Bernard, M., Lida, B., Riley, S., Hackler, T., & Janzen, K. (2002). A comparison of popular online fonts: Which size and type is best? Usability News, 4.1. Retrieved November 2005, from http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/41/onlinetext.htm.
  • Bernard, M., Mills, M., Peterson, M., & Storrer, K. (2001). A comparison of popular online fonts: Which is best and when? Usability News, 3.2. Retrieved November 2005, from http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/3S/font.htm.
  • Boyarski, D., Neuwirth, C., Forlizzi, J., & Regli, S.H. (1998). A study of fonts designed for screen display. Proceedings of CHI’98, 87-94.
  • Evans, M. (1998). Web Design: An Empiricist’s Guide. Unpublished master’s thesis. Seattle: University of Washington. Retrieved May 2003, from http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/webmastr/webdesgn.pdf.
  • Tullis, T.S., Boynton, J.L., & Hersh, H. (1995). Readability of fonts in the windows environment. Proceedings of CHI’95, 127-128.
  • Williams, T.R. (2000). Guidelines for designing and evaluating the display of information on the Web. Technical Communication, 47(3), 383-396.

Poor Example:

Using unfamiliar fonts may slow reading speeds.11_07_bad_example