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Simple words, simple fonts

I often suggest using fewer words to make reading your message simple and easy.

Roger Dooley, author of Brainfluence, has added a new form of simplicity to effective communications – simplicity in fonts.

Research has shown that ornate fonts make a task appear to be more time-consuming than the same task written in a clearer, simpler font. An ornate font could actually make your products and services seem slow or tedious, which is obviously not an image you want to promote.

Dooley stated that a simpler font will communicate your message better because it is easier to read and looks easier to read (i.e. is more appealing). Just like a simpler message is easier and more appealing.

What do you think – does a fancy font impact on how you perceive a product or service?

Shorter messages and clearer fonts make writing readable

Which font is clearer?

PS The recommendation is to use a clear font such as Arial for descriptions and instructions.

18 Responses to Simple words, simple fonts

  • godric says:

    I suppose using Arial instead of a stylish font is good when thinking of a style for the body of the message. I would like to point out though that stylish fonts are still better when used as a header or a title.

    One should be careful, however, of choosing a specific font. Consistency should also be observed to avoid getting the readers confused.

    • tashword says:

      I think it is about readability rather than any specific font. That is, you can choose something other than Arial and it can be interesting (especially for headings) but it still needs to be easy to read. Something very ornate is hard to read and distracts form your message.

      Totally agree with you about consistency, Godric.

  • janicecai1 says:

    I do agree with this article. Using simple words help get the message across more effectively than those who choose to write too much. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming to read a lot and it makes the person just keep on reading without really thinking about the content itself. So keep it simple!

    • tashword says:

      I think we’ve all done that – reading without actually taking in the message because of distractions! It is really annoying if you actually wanted to get the message as you end up having to read it again (and possibly again!)

  • shantald06 says:

    Anything that is easier on the eyes and better to understand or the brain is acceptable when I am reading fonts. I like to choose fonts like Arial and Times New Roman because of the commonality and less strain on the eyes. The message of this post should be forwarded to all people who think a stylish font will get the message across better.

  • UmiNoor says:

    I either use Arial or Verdana in my Words documents. It’s much simpler and clearer to read. I don’t even like the Times New Roman which is the default font for most documents.

    And when I see some businesses using complicated and ornate fonts on their banner or bunting, I simply won’t read the banner because even though they may seem nice, it’s difficult to read. And these businesses should know that certain fonts project specific images in the minds of the readers.

    • godric says:

      Arial is also my favorite. It is very simple to the point that it lessens the stress of reading something.

      Calibri would also be a good choice since it when it comes to simplicity. I used that whenever I feel like using something other than Arial.

      I don’t think a lot of people uses Times New Romans any more since the font tends to be tiring at times.

      • tashword says:

        Those are probably the 3 main fonts used as default in a lot of software – I know they come up by default in many documents I prepare/edit.

        I think it is really important to remove any distractions in business writing so people can concentrate on your actual message – fancy fonts is such an easy distraction to avoid, too.

    • tashword says:

      Wow, you actually don’t read things with the fancy font – that’s really important to know for anyone considering fancy fonts, UmiNoor so thanks for sharing that.

      Use of a particular font could give a hidden message, too – and it may not be the one you expect. Some people would think an elegant, old fashioned font show formality and refers to a gentler age whilst others may find it boring, archaic or a reminder of unpleasant memories. It all forms part of your brand and consistency of that brand, doesn’t it?

      • UmiNoor says:

        Yes, fonts do help in branding. Just look at the Disney font. It projects the image of fun and cartoony in nature. So it’s very important that businesses think hard what fonts they want to use in their banners and advertising.

  • shantald06 says:

    I like fonts that aren’t too fancy, especially when I am writing 200 words or more. Elegant fonts are more natural for events you would use a calligrapher for, not a business setting.

    When reading proposals or meeting minutes, the font should be easily legible an fluid.

    Anything that is easier on the eyes and better to understand or the brain is acceptable when I am reading fonts. I like to choose fonts like Arial and Times New Roman because of the commonality and less strain on the eyes. The message of this post should be forwarded to all people who think a stylish font will get the message across better.

    • tashword says:

      One part of me agrees with pretty fonts in invitations, etc, but another part of me still thinks it is hard to read and that can be a problem if I’m trying to find the time and place of an event! But I like your division of business and special events for font uses, Shantald06 🙂

      Thanks for suggesting this post should be distributed to many – it’s lovely to hear I have written something of value to people.

  • Anna T says:

    I would definitely recommend a simply font over a fancy one. Fancy fonts take too long to load and I usually bypass pages that have them.

    Even though the fancy fonts look nice, they are far from the best option for webmasters. Sites with fancy fonts tend to have higher bounce rates than sites with simple fonts.

    I like Times New Roman and Arial, personally.

    • tashword says:

      I hand’t thought about loading times – thanks for pointing that out, Anna.

      The other advantage to a simple font (such as Times New Roman or Arial) is that they are readily available If you use a fancy font on a website and someone has a program that can’t show that font, the alternative font can look clunky and out of place.

  • onlinebusinessgal says:

    I tend to just use the most basic fonts when I am writing. There are times when a client will even specific a font. I have seen products written in such a fancy font that it makes it look as if the article is going to be very complex. Then there are those fonts that make it difficult to actually read the words.

    • tashword says:

      If a client asks for a specific font that will make it hard to read or give hidden messages, do you tell the client? Obviously you can’t make the client use (or not) use a font, but I would always explain what I think is their best approach (i.e. a simple to read font!)

  • Dojo says:

    I am a web designer so typography is something I am also interested in. You cannot create a beautiful layout based on Arial only, so most of my new designs are having a custom well chosen font to go. These are used as an ‘accent’ though, the main text is still using verdana, arial or trebuchet ms, maybe Georgia too. For the headings and logos, I go crazy a little with one custom font that suits the design.

    Otherwise I consider it’s good to keep the font styles to a minimum, so that people can focus on the content, not have to wade through entire paragraphs that are impossible to follow.

    • tashword says:

      I think it would be very boring if every website, brochure and book had the same font 🙂 As long as text is easy to read, different fonts are fine to my mind.

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