Font question (not philosophical)

Is there a ‘standard’ font to use?  Times New Roman 12 seems pretty standard to me.  Huenemann, do you see much in the way of requiring a certain font for article or other manuscript submissions?

I don’t hate Times New Roman, but I have been playing with my Course Packets in the new iWork programs and am tempted by some other fonts that look to me to be readable and easy on the eyes over a long course packet (200 pages).  (Book Antiqua, Baskerville, Modern No. 20 and Palatino, if you are curious.  I also really like Weiss,which you can pay to download.  It is a typeface designed by Geman typographer Emil Rudolph Weiss (1875-1943).)

It does seem there are certain ‘canonical’ fonts (Times New Roman, Helvetica (which Mac use as default), Arial, and my wife tells me she sees a lot more Calibri, which she says is the PC Office 07 default).  I wonder why those and not others?  Anyway, now that they are canonical, maybe I should stick to Times New Roman.  Reading student papers, I do get annoyed with varying fonts. Your eyes get used to one and it is hard to shift gears.  In fact, I require many of my papers to be done in TNR 12 (in part because they have length maximums so I don’t want font games).

Thoughts on this pressing matter? (hey, it is summer!).

Author: Kleiner

Associate Vice Provost and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.

6 thoughts on “Font question (not philosophical)”

  1. Surprisingly I don’t have many thoughts on this. My friend who does print design has strong feelings on fonts. Next time I chat with her I’ll ask. She also likes my handwriting and was considering turning it into a font. If that happens it should certainly become the standard. :)

    Who’s to say this question isn’t philosophical?

    Tolkien fans should check out the hunt for gollum.


  2. INTERESTING TRIVIA: Traditionally, a font was a complete set of those little steel cubes used for printing. The mathematical designs the fonts were based on, or the things we call “fonts” today, were called typefaces. Only some hardcore typesetters and graphic designers stick to this terminology, however, since everybody else uses the terms synonymously.

    MORE PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The “canonical” fonts are canonical because they are well-designed and extremely legible. On the other hand, there are other equally well-designed and legible fonts that don’t get as much love.

    For the kind of documents you’re creating, I think you should have two main criteria: legibility and persuasiveness. For print documents (especially long ones) I recommend a serif font. Serifs are the little horizontal lines you’ll notice on some fonts. The theory is that serifs create an invisible line that helps your eyes follow the line of text. In any case, it’s widely agreed that serif fonts are the most legible in text. (Sans serif fonts are great for on screen viewing, since serifs are usually too small for a standard 72 ppi screen to display correctly.)

    All the fonts you named were serif fonts, and they are all pretty legible. I would encourage you to use Palatino or Book Antiqua, however, because they have less contrast between thin and thick strokes, making them more stylish and allegedly more readable. Baskerville’s pretty good; Modern No. 20 has way too much contrast between thick and thin strokes and huge serifs. Plus, it would make all your students think you wanted to go back to Art Deco.

    Personally, I like to use Minion for print documents. It’s very legible and stylish (fonts are all about style). You seem to like fonts with an older style, however, so I might recommend a Garamond, Bodoni, Book Antiqua, Palatino or Caslon (or Times New Roman).

    I usually use Verdana for on-screen documents. It’s a big font, but it’s extremely easy to read on-screen. Helvetica or Arial are good too, but they were designed for advertising, not on-screen reading.


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