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Importance of picking the right font

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The US government could save almost $400m a year by changing the typeface it uses for printed documents, according to a 14-year-old Pittsburg schoolboy.

He calculated that ink accounts for up to 60 per cent of the cost of a printed page and, ounce for ounce, is twice as expensive as the perfume Chanel No 5. Cost-benefit analysis of a range of fonts showed that switching to the thin and elegant Garamond typeface could cut his school district’s ink consumption by 24 per cent. Extrapolating this figure gave the potential savings for government.

The idea of cost-effective font selection is not new, however. A 2010 study by the University of Wisconsin­–Green Bay estimated that it could save $10,000 a year by switching from Arial to Century Gothic, which uses 30 per cent less ink. But because of Century Gothic has wider lettering it requires more paper, and so any savings on ink are offset by increased paper costs.

But font selection is about more than aesthetics and cost. Psychologists from Princetown University showed that people retain more information from text presented in disfluent (ie, ugly) fonts such as Monotype Corsiva and Haettenschweiler than in more readable fonts such as Arial or Helvetica. They proved that dis?uency leads people to process information more deeply, abstractly and carefully, and yields better comprehension — all important for effective learning.

New York Times writer Errol Morris and psychologist David Dunning have suggested that font choice determines how seriously readers view a text. For example, Comic Sans is seen as markedly lightweight, while Baskerville has more gravitas. When CERN  researchers announced the first sighting of the Higgs Boson they made the mistake of presenting their findings in Comic Sans MS, and the scientific community wondered if it was all a joke.

There is no mistaking the importance of The Pharmaceutical Journal, however. Its Plantin MT Std Light suggests a reliably authoritative read.

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From: Beyond pharmacy blog

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