Anyone involved with designing printed matter, websites and emails knows that not only does each typeface have its own personality, but some are more readable than others. Conventional wisdom says that serif typefaces are easier to read than sans serif.
If you’re not up on your typeface terminology, a serif typeface such as Times Roman has small lines at the ends of many of the letters. A sans serif typeface such as Arial does not.
Newspapers and books virtually all use serif typefaces. The theory is that that the serifs form a base line that guides the reader’s eye across the page, reducing eye fatigue.
Sans serif typefaces are more common online, presumably because the lower resolution of computer screens makes the serif type more difficult to read.
Copywriter and consultant Bob Bly recently published a blog post offering specific suggestions on the best fonts for online marketing.
Interestingly, I just Googled the topic and found numerous mentions of Alex Poole’s writing on the subject, citing many studies that show no difference between serif and sans serif typeface readability.
Call me a traditionalist, but until someone proves definitively otherwise, I’m sticking with serif type for long blocks of printed copy and sans serif offline.