Best for Web bodytext

jwithnell's picture

Please forgive a newbe for jumping in so quickly, but I could use some help.

I came along in the days of print media and am well versed in the conventions for using typefaces in that context. Well, now I'm in the internet world and am confused.

Opinions seem split right down the middle regarding the use of a serif typeface for body text as is generally recommended in print. Some seem to think sans is easier to read on screen, others continue in the serif tradition. (I noticed this site is using a serif face.) When working on my current project, I keep decreasing the view to get a sense of how something might appear on a mobile phone, and it does seem like sans holds up better at this scale. Any thoughts? (And many thanks!)

Karl Stange's picture

When working on my current project, I keep decreasing the view to get a sense of how something might appear on a mobile phone, and it does seem like sans holds up better at this scale.

What model(s) of phone are you looking at?

jwithnell's picture

Galaxy 7 tablet for now. Eventually, I'll review on phones in both the Android and iphone environments. For now, I'm just wondering if there is a general consensus regarding serif/sans for body text among those who really know something about typefaces as opposed to generalized web designers.

Indra Kupferschmid's picture

I would say the Font Bureau RE fonts are currently the best choice for small text on screen. http://www.webtype.com/catalog/?wssmall=829

Joshua Langman's picture

I say, serif. Like Georgia, the font you're reading. While sans might conceivably be better for very small text on very small screens, the web and its readers are not so typographically impoverished that they can't handle serifs. With 300 dpi resolution on some smart phones, any typeface will be pretty readable anyway. Even if they're somewhat less readable than sans, I think the serifs are worth it.

Actually, I think this kind of thing should be dictated by the theme and content of the site. So what's the site about? How long is the text? Who are your target readers? Etc.

oldnick's picture

Until we get ANYTHING approaching a universal standard, it's pretty much a crapshoot. Just make sure that your boss has the same phone as you. Or vice versa, probably…

daverowland's picture

Recently on Twitter, this was suggested as a site displaying the power of webfonts (http://europeandaily.com/) and here's how it looks in Chrome on Windows 7:


Lovely!
Why is anybody bothering hinting when browser rendering is so bad? You would think Google would fix their shitty Chrome rendering before pushing Google Web Fonts. I moved to Chrome for the speed but the amount of websites it renders illegible is pushing me back to IE.

ahyangyi's picture

daverowland,

Is it a Chrome problem or a "Windows can't get Postscript-flavored fonts right" problem? My Chromium on Linux shows the very same page in a much saner way.

hrant's picture

What system can get PS fonts "right"?

hhp

daverowland's picture

Is it a Chrome problem or a "Windows can't get Postscript-flavored fonts right" problem?

Well it's fine in Internet Explorer on Windows so I just assumed it was a Chrome problem. I don't pretend to know a lot about hinting. I just know that I personally am not going to spend ages on it when I see fonts with decent manual hinting still looking so bad on the web.

John Hudson's picture

What system can get PS fonts "right"?

DWrite.

hrant's picture

Which, ahyangyi should note, is Windows.

hhp

Té Rowan's picture

@hrant – I think a Phalanx CIWS would get 'em 'right'. :-|

Té Rowan's picture

I can already tell from spammer @Alexacharli's post that tomorrow will be a 'bleh' day.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Is that spam or not? :)

Té Rowan's picture

Infospam; analogous with infomercials (informative commercials).

ahyangyi's picture

hrant, you're right. I didn't notice that daverowland said IE works fine with that font.

David Vereschagin's picture

daverowland:

The European Daily site looks okay in Safari and Chrome on the Mac. I’ve found Firefox to be the worst of the major browsers on OS X.

David

Typogruffer's picture

What about FF Scala? Ilovetypography.com uses it and it is beautiful.

hrant's picture

Too small on the body.

hhp

japersam's picture

i will go for times new roman in italics.
it's classy and attractive.

vernon adams's picture

Android uses a tweaked Freetype for text rendering. As a general rule, imho, i would say that Android will often render an unhinted truetype font in much the same way (or better) than the same truetype manually hinted in the old school manner. I wonder if the old school hinting carried out for ye olde windows GDI is a bit overkill on todays devices? Freetype's built in autohinter seems to do a much better job with unhinted fonts than it's bytecode interpreter does with old school hinted fonts, especially given the luxury of hi res.

In terms of good looking type that renders well on these devices i agree with the suggestion of the Font Bureau RE fonts. Are they free to users though? i forget, but i'm guessing 'yes they are', or 'yes kind of'. But it's worth mentioning licensing - the web and mobile devices are increasingly reliant on typeset text being 'open' to all users, so the font you use is absolutely best being unrestricted too. The RE fonts though you will pay for per amount of bandwidth per month caused by your users/readers pulling the font from the server. More readers = more bandwidth = more $$$s. Could be a great investment, or could be the reason you go hungry ;)

vernon adams's picture

when I see fonts with decent manual hinting still looking so bad on the web

Isn' that a bit oxymoronic? :)

hrant's picture

Android will often render an unhinted truetype font in much the same way (or better) than the same truetype manually hinted in the old school manner.

That sounds like some serious distortion field fallout...

the font you use is absolutely best being unrestricted too.

Except when the crappiness of the font is also unrestricted... Because virtually no human being is willing to spend the amount of time necessary to get good enough without being paid for it. The very few such lucky* people you might find cannot deliver the collective man-hours necessary to create all the fonts changing culture and changing technologies need.

* Or rather, happy-to-live-in-a-barrel-in-Africa-with-no-kids.

hhp

vernon adams's picture

hehe same old rant, Hrant ;P
I'd love to see you man the f**k up and make a font that is both excellent, and, that lots of people want to use. You think you're up to it? ;)

hrant's picture

As old as Humankind.
I don't consider myself a capitalist (quite the contrary) but the relevance of materialism cannot be brushed aside. In fact materialism is the covert heart of the open-source philosophy, because it's all about possessing things without giving up things in return. The altruists (like Dave Crossland and maybe yourself) are the priests driving the bandwagons, but the people jumping on them just want the free ride. The priests however would be out of a job without them.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that one should only do things for money (if anything I myself spend too much time helping people and not making enough money) it's that people shouldn't repurpose their own desire to save money into a belief/delusion that others should make free things for them.

a font that is both excellent, and, that lots of people want to use.

I'm no miracle worker.
You can hold me responsible for flaws in my fonts, but not for flaws in society.

It's neither the popularity nor the free/open-source nature of Oswald* that causes "long-term" type designers to see flaws in it. We see flaws in it because there are flaws in it. More to the point: if you were to invest more time into it there would be fewer flaws. Except you don't live in a barrel.

* http://typophile.com/node/98761

hhp

Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

"I agree with the suggestion of the Font Bureau RE fonts."

Thanks.

"Are they free to users though?"

Yes, no user has to pay any more than Google users pay.

" i forget, but i'm guessing 'yes they are', or 'yes kind of'. "

RE fonts? they are free for users, well, kind of... The user has to have a device connected to the Internet and some sort of agreement to govern that connection.

Web developers, as opposed to users, have to have all that stuff, and a service for the other content on their site, someone or thing, to design, write copy, handle graphics and maintain the site through changes in cross-platform standards, manage any incoming or out flowing data, messages, and sundry web developer things. On top of all that, they can use our RE fonts for 30 days for free.

And it's worth mentioning fair and broad licensing, self-hosting, quality in print, and embedding for print, for web and in mobile devices – yes, that's all possible too. Talk to a representaive near you soon.

Chris Dean's picture

If you see any spam, shoot me an email — typographer@gmail.com

Sonoraphobic's picture

My God, that is horrible.

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