What’s Your Font

There was a very interesting article, a link dump without the links if you will, in the December 6th New York Times, lead by the following:

Every day, hundreds of thousands of scholars study human behavior. Every day, a few of their studies are bundled and distributed via e-mail by Kevin Lewis, who covers the social sciences for The Boston Globe and National Affairs. And every day, I file away these studies because I find them bizarrely interesting.

In this column, I’m going to try to summarize as many of these studies as space allows. No single study is dispositive, but I hope these summaries can spark some conversations[.]

What an interesting concept! I know that folks like Bora Zikovic and the folks at Seed Magazine have science focused blogs, but to see something similar in the Times, well, that’s something else. There was one article referenced by the author that I found really interesting because it deals with information uptake. It speaks to that critical part of communication wherein the receiver has been given the information, found that he understands it, and attempts to internalize it. What makes people take information they hear and master it. According to the study, it might be something we consider counterintuitive.

People remember information that is hard to master. In a study for Cognition, Connor Diemand-Yauman, Daniel Oppenheimer and Erikka Vaughan found that information in hard-to-read fonts was better remembered than information transmitted in easier fonts.

What font was your last public document written in? Do you even know? (I do, but I’m a font geek.) What does that mean for the future of our work together? Should I write this blog in Harrington!?

No. And no, you shouldn’t change all of your default styles. There are few things in life as acceptable as a nice sans serif font, enjoy that. But consider what’s implied by this study, everything, everything that goes into our public documents is important. Font, whitespace, headings, colors, order, all of it is just as important as the content.