How to use fonts? This is a big question and there are some clear rules but as with most things nobody really knows the answer. In this advice I’m going with the best traditional method to use fonts, perhaps things change, but for now this is the best all-purpose advice.
The general rule is to only use specialised, or unusual, fonts for headings or to make something stand out and to use common easy to read fonts for general text. Remember you want your course to be easy to read for everyone who might sign on to learn.
What font to use for a heading?
Think about your heading fonts or the fonts you use to distinguish your website or branding. These fonts are great to make some writing stand out but most of them are difficult to read for longer periods of time. They even can put some readers off trying to read the text.
This Tlwg Typo font is what I use for this website heading as it is distinctive and looks a bit like an old typrwriter, however, sentences and paragraphs in this font look convoluted and seem to take longer to read.
Some Other Font
Looks great as a heading or to bring alive a web page but would be useless to use for longer text.
What is an easy to read font?
A good way to answer this question is to have a look at Kindle or another online book provider. They use what is often called a ‘serif’ font. This is a font that has a tiny ‘tail’, or rounding off, at the start and end of each letter. This makes the font easy to read for longer periods of time.
Some people, including me on this website, use common sans serif (without serif) fonts for segments of written text. I think this looks good and is easy to read for the amount of content provided. However, if you were reading a book a serif font is much easier on the eyes over long periods of time.
This is a serif font called ‘Liberation Serif’
This is a sans serif font called ‘Tahoma’
Examples of serif fonts:
Times New Roman, Liberation Serif, Century Schoolbook
Examples of sans serif fonts:
Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, Garamond
You can download hundreds of fonts for free through the open source community. Have a look here at the Open Font Library. Confused about open resources, check out my article on OER’s.
1. For a heading use a specialised font the distinguishes your website and attracts people to the material provided.
2. For written text use a common serif font that is easy on the eyes.
The best way to use fonts is whatever your decide, but make your headings clear and make your text easy to read. My best advice is to ask a few friends of various ages and eyesight levels to go through your online content first and give you some feedback.