What is the right font to use?

(One post before the review on Fahrenheit 9/11)

Have you thought about it?

What type of font you are using for your documents now? Is it a standard prescribed font or you just whack whatever that the Microsoft Word gives you? Or you haven’t really thought about it after so many years of writing documents, letters and blogs?

As part of my work scope, I also handle technical writing partly because I love to write but mainly because I see it as an opportunity to improve on my language and writing skills (the exact same reason for blogging). Having the right format is critical for me.

From the way I see it, document writing is almost like cooking. In cooking, one does not immediately starts cooking right? One needs to get the ingredients ready, get the pan hot and set the right environment in the kitchen before start. I mean it is going to be a big disaster in the kitchen when you are half way cooking chicken curry when you realised you have not prepared the main ingredients before cooking.

Same goes for writing documents. Get ready the template, font, graphics ready before typing the first words. Getting the right form is more important than getting the right substance at this juncture. Talking about fonts is rather a personal thing. Some like certain font, others don’t. I even had one customer commenting that the font used in one of the document as “boring” (that is the first I heard a font can boring or exciting).

Whenever I have a new assignment, the first thing I do is getting the right template in. This means spending time to do “research” on the right template, pictures and flow.

Anyway one critical question was raised during a documentation discussion at my work place yesterday – what is the right font to use? Well, most of the documents is written in Times New Roman, 99% of the time but that is because it is the default font in the Microsoft Word. No many of us wants to take the trouble changing the fonts, some may change it to Arial and other fonts. Lawyers use the font Arial for legal documentation and I often use it too in formal documents.

There are many sites that talks about choosing the right font but I like this one from Microsoft office website which lists out the best practices of font usage:-

Best practice #1: Pin the tail on the font (or not)

Best practice #2: Have fonts, will travel

Best practice #3: Choose the right font for the job (ok, this is what I am looking for)

Best practice #4: Limit how many families (of fonts) you're using

Best practice #3 states if you're creating a presentation, spreadsheet, or whatever, for a business meeting, you really shouldn't use what I like to call "cutesy fonts." The rules change, however, if that document or slide show is for a group of children. (If your co-workers act like children, you're on your own.) Just like shoes, some fonts are more suited to some purposes than others.

Which one seems more businesslike and which one is more playful. Which font would you use to pitch your small business to a busy investor? Which font would you use to pitch extra milk and cookies after naptime?

Ya, we are on spot on the fonts along the above line – Times New Roman and Arial and with minimum types of fonts in a single document. Which one you are using? Is it right for the job?

By the way, this post was drafted on a document using the font “Sylfaen” sized 11.

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