Choosing a Font When Printing Manuscripts

Some writers wonder which fonts (i.e., typefaces) to use when printing manuscripts from a computer, because so many are available, from novelty fonts to sans-serif fonts. Why use a typewriter-style font when we’re not writing on a typewriter?

Times Roman is an excellent choice for its readability. It’s not specifically a "typewriter" font, but it’s very close in look.

In printed materials, computer users should avoid more difficult-to-read fonts, like Arial, or a novelty font like "Comic Book," even with headlines and such. We’re writers, not designers. And ultimately, we’re communicators, and we should use typefaces that communicate quickly and easily. Just because computers give us the ability to use all sorts of interesting, eye-catching fonts doesn’t mean that we should feel obligated to exercise the ability. Cars give you the ability to drive backwards. Most drivers prefer the traditional "forward-gear" approach to moving down the road. Switching from the typewriter to the computer doesn’t necessitate our similarly switching fonts.

Besides, if a sans-serif font or a novelty font had proven to be more readable in the days of typewriters, the manufacturers would have used them instead of the traditional serifed fonts like Times Roman and Century. "Traditional" doesn’t necessarily mean "archaic." It’s not that typewriter manufacturers didn’t have access to other fonts — they simply chose the readable ones. We as computer-using writers should, too.

Interestingly, sans-serif fonts seem to work better than serif fonts on websites. It’s ironic that the font you’re likely looking at on your screen while reading this is Verdana, a sans-serif font.

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