Serif and Sans-Serif Fonts
Characters in serif fonts have little projections or ‘tails’ (serif = tail in French) at the end of strokes and line widths that thin out on curves. The serifs guide a reader’s eyes to flow across lines of text. Conventionally, serif fonts are used for smaller text such as blocks of texts in newspapers. Serif fonts are harder to read from a distance. Examples of serif fonts are Times New Roman, Times Roman, Garamond and Palatino.
Characters in sans-serif fonts have more consistent line widths and do not have tails (sans = without in French.) Sans-serif fonts appear clear, fresh and balanced in shape and form. Conventionally, sans-serif fonts are used for larger text such as headlines or text in posters. Sans-serif fonts are the most popular choice for on-screen (TV, computer, etc.) text because of their clarity in display. Examples of sans-serif fonts are Helvetica, Arial, Futura and Verdana.
Fonts for Presentations
- Sans-serif fonts are perhaps the best choice for presentation design because sans-serif fonts are more legible than serif fonts when projected.
- With serif fonts, given the limited resolution of projectors, some of the thinner strokes tend to break-up or disappear when projected, especially at smaller sizes.
- Characters in monospace fonts (e.g., Courier New and Monaco) each occupy the same amount of space. Use monospace fonts for tabulated information or computer console output only.
- Cursive or decorative fonts easily distract the eye and make a presentation look unprofessional. Use such fonts sparingly in presentations.
- Avoid using more than two fonts in a presentation; too many fonts lead to inconsistency in visual design.
Font Sizes: Larger the Better
Font size is measured in points. A point represents 1/72 of an inch; text in 72 points prints to text of one-inch height.
The choice of font sizes is dictated by the size of the room in which you will present. Choose a font-size that will make all of your text readable to everyone in the audience. Use font sizes of 32-48 points for slide titles and headings and font sizes of 24-32 points for the rest of the content.