Want to find love, ace that test or lie online? Then you better choose the right font. Below you’ll find three of the craziest studies I came across when I was trapped in the font research vortex for my last blog. Enjoy.
1. If you want people to believe you, use Baskerville.
Turns out font impacts how “honest” we feel the writing is. In 2012 Errol Morris of The New York Times was curious to see if font could possibly influence whether readers found the conclusion of a study to be believable or not. Surprise, surprise: It had a huge impact. The most “honest” font is Baskerville. Something to keep in mind for your e-commerce copy.
You can take his quiz here — and learn more than you could ever possibly imagine about the subtle, and not so subtle, effects of font.
2. If you want to get a better grade, use Georgia.
Yes, font also impacts the perceived quality of the writing. In one famous study, a college student submitted the same paper three times, with no difference except the font. Georgia earned him an A. Times New Roman got him an A-, Trebuchet MS got him a B-. Yikes! That’s a huge difference. He wisely switched to Georgia for the rest of the semester.
3. If you want to keep it casual, respond in Comic Sans.
Designers will often describe fonts as masculine or feminine. But beyond “gender,” can a font have a personality, too? In a 2006 study, “In Perception of Fonts: Perceived Personality Traits and Uses,” researchers A. Dawn Shaikh, Barbara Chaparro and Doug Fox found that people really do anthropomorphize fonts. Now, this study is not saying that a person shares the same perceived traits as the font he chooses. But why risk having your reader form a subconscious association when you can just replace rude IMPACT with a polite CAMBRIA?
According to this study, here are a few fonts and associated traits:
- Arial: stable
- Georgia: assertive
- Comic Sans: happy
- Courier New: sad
See the full list here.
So What’s Your Takeaway?
You don’t need to become a neurotic mess fretting over font choice, but it’s probably a good idea to at least give it a little thought — especially if you’re a) trying to sell something, b) trying to get a good grade or c) online dating.