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This is not a technical question. However as the FAQs say this place is about

people who love to create well-structured and beautifully typeset documents

I take my shot.

I am often confused when which font family is more appropriate. Most people would suggest: "take what you like the most". But there are typographicaly reasons and I don't want to pick a font familty randomly.

I am looking for some good paper reasoning about the choice of font family, no luck so far. Are there good sources?

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Perhaps this answer is helpful. – lockstep Dec 22 '10 at 9:55
I took the liberty to tidy up your post a little. I hope you don't mind. – Yossi Farjoun Dec 22 '10 at 10:05
up vote 6 down vote accepted

a good and detailed answer can be found also here - although it's talking about web design, I think these are good guide lines also for printed documents: http://webdesign.about.com/od/fonts/a/aa080204.htm

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  • presentations: sans-serif
  • documents:
    • up to one/two pages: sans-serif or serif
    • more pages: always serif
    • header/titles maybe in sans-serif
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...why? Is there any kind of explanation or justification for this list (other than "I said so", obviously)? – Najib Idrissi Mar 29 at 13:39

I know the question is about typography (i.e., aesthetics), but maybe an overview over several scientific studies which compare the legibility of typefaces is also interesting:


Finally, we should accept that most reasonably designed typefaces in mainstream use will be equally legible, and that it makes much more sense to argue in favour of serif or sans serif typefaces on aesthetic grounds than on the question of legibility.

Since aesthetics cannot be determined scientifically, the only important reason to prefer one typeface over another is really your personal opinion—but often it helps to stick to traditions.

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it is not a question of aesthetics, it is a question of what can be read easier. This is measured by the speed how one can read a text and understand. Of course, there are different publication of what is better to read, a long serif or sans-serif text. Today it is more a common sense to use a serif font for long papers. – Herbert Dec 22 '10 at 16:32
@Herbert: The OP mentioned typographic reasons and didn't ask about legibility. – Philipp Dec 22 '10 at 17:09
sure, and from a book of typography: "for most people a text with a serif fonts is better to read" – Herbert Dec 22 '10 at 17:56
That sentence has been disproven by the studies mentioned in the blog post. Likewise the typography book should cite several studies that come to the opposite conclusion, otherwise it's scientifically unsound. – Philipp Dec 22 '10 at 18:13

Semi-serious answer: You could look it up on this fabulous poster: So you need a Typeface.

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The link is broken. Were you referring to this one: inspirationlab.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/so-you-need-a-typeface – Turion Jan 28 at 11:13
@Turion I did refer to this one. I corrected the link. Even though your link shows a higher resolution version of the poster. – Habi Jan 28 at 13:02

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