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The best readability means the readers feel comfortable when reading the document. The most economic means the printing needs the lowest cost for ink.

Again, which font provides the best readability and the most economic?

Edit

I don't know much about fonts whether they are TeX, TrueType and so on. As long as the fonts are available free of charge and most printing companies have them, I will use the fonts.

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"best readability" depends on the reader. Also "whats X is best" questions generally fall under the "subjective and argumentative" category, because it is a matter of opinion which font gives the best readability. You might want to rephrase your question to something like "Which font(s) provide for good readability while being economic". –  Martin Scharrer Mar 4 '11 at 10:26
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Make clear that you're interested in print reading. What fonts look good on screen, and which print nicely are distinct questions... –  Seamus Mar 4 '11 at 12:05
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Also, please mention whether you'd prefer TeX-compatible fonts, or OpenType/TrueType are also an option (for use with e.g. XeTeX). –  Martin Tapankov Mar 4 '11 at 12:06
    
@seamus: The context is printing. @Martin and @Martin: please see my update. –  LaTeX Mar 4 '11 at 14:14
    
Also, what font is best depends also on the type of text you are producing. To use an extreme example, what's good for a wedding invitation isn't likely to be good for a physics paper and vice versa. But the same principle extends to other texts (letters vs. lecture notes vs. articles, for example.) –  Alan Munn Mar 4 '11 at 23:42

5 Answers 5

up vote 20 down vote accepted

Fonts are about legibility, not readability. There has been numerous studies concerning the legibility of fonts, most of them with negative (i.e., no significant difference between fonts) or "surprising" results (e.g., Comic Sans more legible than Arial/Helvetica). For a good overview on the question "serif vs. sans-serif" see this review by Alex Poole. From the conclusion:

What initially seemed a neat dichotomous question of serif versus sans serif has resulted in a body of research consisting of weak claims and counter-claims, and study after study with findings of “no difference”. […]

Finally, we should accept that most reasonably designed typefaces in mainstream use will be equally legible […]

My suggestion is: use what you like best, there will be no significant impact on legibility. The fonts that come with modern operating systems (e.g., Hoefler Text or Cambria) are fine.

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Lately I've been obsessed with New Century Schoolbook, which I've been using for absolutely everything. The readability is excellent (at least on-screen—I haven't printed a whole lot with it yet); it's a bit heavier than Computer Modern (but not too heavy), it has nice-looking italic and bold faces and full math support. Can't really beat that.

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I do have one minor issue with it: its "fl" ligature looks kind of sloppy. But that's an incredibly minor nitpick –  Andrew Mar 4 '11 at 13:39
    
I love the pscyr package (which uses a variation of the Antiqua font by default, with cyrillic support). Alas, it is not on CTAN, but the type is incredibly elegant and a striking improvement over CM in terms of on-paper readability. –  level1807 Aug 15 at 7:25

If you are really worried about the economic angle, your best best is a light sans-serif font. Arial light maybe, or Scala Sans Light, or Univers Light. Fonts without serifs tend to have a higher x-height, but the availability of Light/Thin versions compensates for that.

If you can find a condensed version, use the font at 5pt, and minimize the margins, you can save quite a lot on paper costs as well. :)

But seriously, the best way to save on printing costs is not to print at all, and for that you are better off with a font that is easy to read on-screen. I have used Verdana and DejaVu Sans in the past with reasonable success. And the MicroSoft cleartype fonts (Cambria, Calibri, Candara etc.) work really well too.

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Although this is highly subjective, I'll venture a suggestion: urw-garamond in my opinion is a good one, both in print and on screen. In most cases it's more economical than CM and less so compared to txfonts, the typography is lovely for the text; for the math there are spacing problems (not too much though,) with certain symbols (particularly ''\partial''). From what I have seen, txfonts is the most economical, but I feel claustrophobic seeing it both on screen and in print.

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Lovely font, and I personally have not had any problems typesetting all sorts of math with it (that said, I haven't used \partial yet, so there may well be issues). –  Tikhon Jelvis Mar 6 '11 at 6:14

You could give Swift by Gerard Unger a try; good readability and goes not too wide. http://www.gerardunger.com/fontstore/store-swift.html

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The OP asked for fonts "free of charge". –  Sverre Sep 6 '13 at 9:20

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