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Thread: Serif vs sans-serif

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Number of posts in this thread: 10 (In chronological order)

From: Terry Thompson
Date: Wed, Jan 03 2007 12:40PM
Subject: Serif vs sans-serif
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Hi All,

I know this is an old debate, but I thought I'd revisit it, and see if
anyone is aware of conclusive evidence that supports either serif or
sans-serif fonts for legibility and/or readability on the web.

There's an excellent literature review by Alex Poole that cites a large
number of studies which combined yield conflicting results. However there's
no specific mention in this article of users with visual impairments, so I'm
assuming all of the research Poole cites is based on samples of people with
"normal" vision. The Poole article is here:
http://www.alexpoole.info/academic/literaturereview.html

Is anyone aware of objective research that explores the question of which
font style works best for users with visual impairments?

Thanks!
Terry Thompson
Technology Specialist, DO-IT
University of Washington
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
206/221-4168
http://www.washington.edu/doit

From: Moore, Michael
Date: Wed, Jan 03 2007 12:50PM
Subject: Re: Serif vs sans-serif
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Terry,

This is not conclusive scientific evidence but it has been my experience
that the text smoothing functions in ZoomText seem to work better with
sans-serif fonts. I am not sure if this holds true for other screen
magnifiers.

Mike

-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
[mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Terry
Thompson
Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007 1:31 PM
To: 'WebAIM Discussion List'
Subject: [WebAIM] Serif vs sans-serif

Hi All,

I know this is an old debate, but I thought I'd revisit it, and see if
anyone is aware of conclusive evidence that supports either serif or
sans-serif fonts for legibility and/or readability on the web.

There's an excellent literature review by Alex Poole that cites a large
number of studies which combined yield conflicting results. However
there's no specific mention in this article of users with visual
impairments, so I'm assuming all of the research Poole cites is based on
samples of people with "normal" vision. The Poole article is here:
http://www.alexpoole.info/academic/literaturereview.html

Is anyone aware of objective research that explores the question of
which font style works best for users with visual impairments?

Thanks!
Terry Thompson
Technology Specialist, DO-IT
University of Washington
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
206/221-4168
http://www.washington.edu/doit

From: Harkins, Denise
Date: Wed, Jan 03 2007 1:00PM
Subject: Re: Serif vs sans-serif
Previous message | Next message

You have a very good question. Everything that I have read on this
issue: is to USE SERIF FONTS FOR PRINT, and USE SANS SERIF FOR SCREEN
READING. However, this is probably in reference to non-visual impaired
readers.

I came from designing for the printing industry and then became more
involved with on-screen designs, and that is one of the things they also
say to do. But remember one can also think OUTSIDE THE BOX if you want
to be creative.

I usually go with this rule of thumb. If it a lot of copy to read, use
serif, if it is shorter or broken into smaller chunks of text, then you
can use sans serif.

Denise A. Harkins
Publications & Web Site Coordinator
Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality
Customer Services Division
PHONE: 405-702-1010
FAX: 405-702-1001
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
[mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Terry
Thompson
Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007 1:31 PM
To: 'WebAIM Discussion List'
Subject: [WebAIM] Serif vs sans-serif

Hi All,

I know this is an old debate, but I thought I'd revisit it, and see if
anyone is aware of conclusive evidence that supports either serif or
sans-serif fonts for legibility and/or readability on the web.

There's an excellent literature review by Alex Poole that cites a large
number of studies which combined yield conflicting results. However
there's
no specific mention in this article of users with visual impairments, so
I'm
assuming all of the research Poole cites is based on samples of people
with
"normal" vision. The Poole article is here:
http://www.alexpoole.info/academic/literaturereview.html

Is anyone aware of objective research that explores the question of
which
font style works best for users with visual impairments?

Thanks!
Terry Thompson
Technology Specialist, DO-IT
University of Washington
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
206/221-4168
http://www.washington.edu/doit

From: Owens, Parker
Date: Wed, Jan 03 2007 1:20PM
Subject: Re: Serif vs sans-serif
Previous message | Next message

Try the surl.org website for actual research.

This might be useful, "Determining the Best Online Font for Older
Adults" http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/3W/fontSR.htm

Parker Owens
Web Accessibility Office
Eastern Kentucky University
254 Case Annex
Richmond, KY 40475

Phone: (859) 622-2743
http://www.accessibility.eku.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: Harkins, Denise [mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ]
Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007 2:38 PM
To: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ; WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Serif vs sans-serif

You have a very good question. Everything that I have read on this
issue: is to USE SERIF FONTS FOR PRINT, and USE SANS SERIF FOR SCREEN
READING. However, this is probably in reference to non-visual impaired
readers.

I came from designing for the printing industry and then became more
involved with on-screen designs, and that is one of the things they also
say to do. But remember one can also think OUTSIDE THE BOX if you want
to be creative.

I usually go with this rule of thumb. If it a lot of copy to read, use
serif, if it is shorter or broken into smaller chunks of text, then you
can use sans serif.

Denise A. Harkins
Publications & Web Site Coordinator
Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality
Customer Services Division
PHONE: 405-702-1010
FAX: 405-702-1001
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
[mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of Terry
Thompson
Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007 1:31 PM
To: 'WebAIM Discussion List'
Subject: [WebAIM] Serif vs sans-serif

Hi All,

I know this is an old debate, but I thought I'd revisit it, and see if
anyone is aware of conclusive evidence that supports either serif or
sans-serif fonts for legibility and/or readability on the web.

There's an excellent literature review by Alex Poole that cites a large
number of studies which combined yield conflicting results. However
there's
no specific mention in this article of users with visual impairments, so
I'm
assuming all of the research Poole cites is based on samples of people
with
"normal" vision. The Poole article is here:
http://www.alexpoole.info/academic/literaturereview.html

Is anyone aware of objective research that explores the question of
which
font style works best for users with visual impairments?

Thanks!
Terry Thompson
Technology Specialist, DO-IT
University of Washington
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
206/221-4168
http://www.washington.edu/doit

From: Sarah Horton
Date: Wed, Jan 03 2007 1:30PM
Subject: Re: Serif vs sans-serif
Previous message | Next message

--- You wrote:
Is anyone aware of objective research that explores the question of which
font style works best for users with visual impairments?
--- end of quote ---

I'm not sure any of these qualify as objective research, but here are a few articles I've found useful. Only the first deals specifically with users with visual impairments.

Making Text Legible: Designing for People with Partial Sight
http://www.lighthouse.org/print_leg.htm

Criteria for optimal web design (designing for usability)
http://psychology.wichita.edu/optimalweb/text.htm

Readability Of Websites With Various Foreground/Background Color Combinations, Font Types And Word Styles
http://hubel.sfasu.edu/research/ahncur.html

Hope this helps!
Sarah


Sarah Horton
Dartmouth College
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =

From: Philip Kiff
Date: Wed, Jan 03 2007 1:40PM
Subject: Re: Serif vs sans-serif
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Terry Thompson wrote on 3 January 2007 14:31EST:
> Is anyone aware of objective research that explores the question of
> which font style works best for users with visual impairments?

In addition to those mentioned by others, you might want to review:

A Comparison of Two Computer Fonts: Serif versus Ornate Sans Serif (2003)
By Sarah Morrison and Jan Noyes, University of Bristol, UK:
http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/52/UK_font.htm

Which Fonts Do Children Prefer to Read Online? (2001)
By Michael Bernard, Melissa Mills, Talissa Frank, & Jan McKown:
http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/3W/fontJR.htm

Reading and Typography (February 19th, 1999)
By Nathon John Hay
http://hubel.sfasu.edu/courseinfo/SL99/typography.html

APhont Product Presentation:
http://www.aph.org/products/presentations/aphont/index.html

Screenfont.ca:
http://screenfont.ca/

Phil.



From: Austin, Darrel
Date: Wed, Jan 03 2007 3:30PM
Subject: Re: Serif vs sans-serif
Previous message | Next message

> I know this is an old debate, but I thought I'd revisit it,
> and see if anyone is aware of conclusive evidence that
> supports either serif or sans-serif fonts for legibility
> and/or readability on the web.

I have yet to see a whole lot of conclusive evidence regarding type in
general in terms of what makes one face more readable and/or legible
than the next.

A great place to ask this question would be over at
http://typophile.com/forums

All that said, it's nice to think (albeit it's partially wishful
thinking) that anyone with vision issues who prefers their type set up a
certain way has already set up the default faces and sizes they prefer
in the browser to over-ride the web sites' defualt settings.

-Darrel

From: Emma Duke-Williams
Date: Thu, Jan 04 2007 4:10AM
Subject: Re: Serif vs sans-serif
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Does any one know of any recent research into this? Much of the work
I've seen is now several years old, and since then screen technology
has come on in leaps and bounds - and also graphics cards etc.

If we're thinking about pages that users can easily adapt - what
guidelines would there be on the types of fonts & colours that can be
selected? (e.g. Bath University's colour choices:
http://www.bath.ac.uk/internal/web/accessibility/, Glish's ability to
change the font face http://www.glish.com/) - or the toolbar that
TechDis have to enable users to change things on the fly,
http://www.techdis.ac.uk/index.php?p=1_20051905100544 - though clearly
that is up to the user to install, and they might not be able to on
all computers that they access.

Emma

On 03 Jan 2007 15:24:13 -0500, Sarah Horton < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
> --- You wrote:
> Is anyone aware of objective research that explores the question of which
> font style works best for users with visual impairments?
> --- end of quote ---
>
> I'm not sure any of these qualify as objective research, but here are a few articles I've found useful. Only the first deals specifically with users with visual impairments.
>
> Making Text Legible: Designing for People with Partial Sight
> http://www.lighthouse.org/print_leg.htm
>
> Criteria for optimal web design (designing for usability)
> http://psychology.wichita.edu/optimalweb/text.htm
>
> Readability Of Websites With Various Foreground/Background Color Combinations, Font Types And Word Styles
> http://hubel.sfasu.edu/research/ahncur.html
>
> Hope this helps!
> Sarah
>
>
> Sarah Horton
> Dartmouth College
> = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
>

From: Austin, Darrel
Date: Thu, Jan 04 2007 7:40AM
Subject: Re: Serif vs sans-serif
Previous message | Next message

> and since then
> screen technology has come on in leaps and bounds

Has it? The only major improvement, AFAICT is that we now have better
system-level anti-aliasing. Other than that, though, screen technologies
haven't change a whole lot...at least not compared to the leaps and
bounds that we've seen in other aspects of computing (speed, ram,
storage space, etc.) We're still dealing with rather low resolution
devices.

-Darrel

From: Emma Duke-Williams
Date: Thu, Jan 04 2007 8:00AM
Subject: Re: Serif vs sans-serif
Previous message | No next message

Guess you are right. ... I was thinking of the fact that late 90s I
had a CRT monitor that was 800 by 600 pixels. (And I think a 15"
screen). Now I have a couple of flat screens, including one on the
laptop - which is a 1400 pixel screen - and a 12.1" screen. To me,
that seems a massive change (especially as I don't see my computer
being that much faster ... it might be more powerful, but the software
on it is so much more clogging!)

Emma

On 1/4/07, Austin, Darrel < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
> > and since then
> > screen technology has come on in leaps and bounds
>
> Has it? The only major improvement, AFAICT is that we now have better
> system-level anti-aliasing. Other than that, though, screen technologies
> haven't change a whole lot...at least not compared to the leaps and
> bounds that we've seen in other aspects of computing (speed, ram,
> storage space, etc.) We're still dealing with rather low resolution
> devices.
>
> -Darrel
>