Font design must serve the reader

Centred text is hard to read. The

eye has to search for the start of the line, the end of a sentence

and the start of a new sentence. It doesn’t

help the reader much.

Add italics and you’re adding a new degree of difficulty for the reader.

The wrong font will change the look of your newsletter, website or annual report.

Every few months, I get a newsletter from a charity that does good work, just not in their newsletter. They’ve gone font-crazy (see above). I know they don’t have much money to spend, but there are plenty of free templates on the web or in Publisher for them to create a good, clean, basic newsletter.

In another example, the hot design agency is recommending multiple fonts to a client. “It’ll make the pages really interesting,” they said. No, it won’t. It’ll make them harder to read.

What both organisations are doing with all those font styles is reducing the readability and the effectiveness of their message. They’re also changing how their brand is viewed.

A quick Google search threw up a very useful article from Impact BND.

They make good points about the right “clothes”, first impressions and choosing the right font. It’s worth a read.

I mentioned readability. We’re information-rich and time-poor these days, so we want the clues that help us find the right content quickly.

  • A descriptive headline
  • Introduction to the page
  • Sub-heads
  • Bullets

I once worked in an organisation where the font selection had been limited. They did it to stop the font crimes above.

The wrong font will change the look of your newsletter, website or annual report. Here’s a paragraph from Auckland International Airport’s 2019 annual report.

Auckland Airport has eight core infrastructure projects that will transform our precinct and anchor our 30-year vision to build an airport of the future, improving the way New Zealanders connect with each other and the world.

Sensible, standard, readable font. Left justified.

Imagine how this content would look when you run it through the styles at the start of this article.

Auckland Airport has eight core infrastructure projects
that will transform our precinct and anchor our 30-year vision
to build an airport of the future, improving the way New Zealanders connect with each other and the world.

Auckland Airport has eight core infrastructure projects
that will transform our precinct and anchor our 30-year vision
to build an airport of the future, improving the way New Zealanders connect with each other and the world.     
  

On paper, on screen or in an HTML newsletter, remember you are writing for the reader. Please don’t make them work harder than necessary to read what you’ve written.