Friday, August 10, 2012

Are Some Fonts More “Trustworthy” than Others?

Here in the WVU iDesign office, we’ve spent a lot of time talking to faculty about readability concerns, and the importance of choosing a clear font for your text. However, like any type of designer, we love to use creative fonts in our headers, graphics, and sidebars. A new study by writer and filmmaker Errol Morris suggests that your choice of font affects the reader’s view of how trustworthy the text is.

In Morris’ recent NYTimes blog post, he shares an anecdotal story about the possibility of a college student’s font choice affecting his paper grades. However, rather than stop there, Morris decided to actually study this issue. His results show differences between the rates at which people agreed or disagreed with the same passage set in different fonts. The front-runners for trust-ability? Baskerville and Georgia.

This is fascinating from psychological and sociological points of view, but may give educators an easy tool for emphasizing key points. Presenting the most important point on the page, or the one-sentence final summary in Baskerville may be a small tool among many that can be used to guide students to the key take-aways when reading educational material.

You can delve more deeply into Morris’ story by reading his blog post at

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