Thinking. Typeface is more science than you might think.

I spent the day with my brother and his family today and we were discussing useful books on the subject of children's therapy. 

"That book was too hard, but this one was really useful and practical," my sister in law said. I agreed, but said, "yeah, except that the typeface made it really hard to read."

My brother raised his eyebrow and looked at me incredulously. "You're criticising the typeface?" he asked. "Isn't it all about the content?"

We then had an in-depth discussion about the importance of presentation, and in particular, typefaces, to reading, information and content. 

The truth is, many typefaces are much easier to read than others. Some page layouts will put off the reader, others will attract.

I was surprised at the amount of convincing I had to do in the conversation, especially given that he's an engineer and designs workable things for a living.  

Some basics:'serif' typefaces will always be more legible than 'sans serifs'. Serifs are the little 'feet' on the bottom of the letters. Sans means 'without', so sans serifs are typefaces without little feet. The feet help define the shape of the letters, which is what our eyes look for.

Typefaces with big rounded central parts of the letters are also less readable, because the shapes of the letters are not as defined as they could be. 

All capitals make the letter shapes appear to be similar, so the eyes have to work harder to make out the words.

And did you know that eyes cope best with a length of text approximately one and a half alphabets long? That's why an A4 page with text going from left to right, all across the page, you'll tire more easily and give up more quickly than if you're reading a newsletter laid out in two or three columns.

So, yes, content is important. But the right style for good content makes it much easier to take in and absorb.