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How does creating type for screen influence our choice of type? I have mentioned already that when working in print, the conventional wisdom is that Serif typefaces are more readable for body text. These can be uncommonly are complemented by contrasting Sans-serif typefaces for heads and subheads. Even if we accept the statement that Serif typefaces are more readable and many people do not, there's no universally agreed upon reason why this might be so.
Do the Serifs act as rails for our eyes? Do we just read them better because we're more used to reading them? On screen we can make an equally sweeping generalization that Sans-serif typefaces are more readable than Serif. The reasons for this are more clear-cut. Sans serif typefaces are simpler, there are no delicate Serifs to be blurred by anti-aliasing, which is the process by which details, especially curves and diagonals are smoothly rendered on screen in pixels.
Let's just take a look at some anti-alias type. I have come over to Photoshop, because in Photoshop our view sizes of more than 100%, we can clearly see the effects of anti-aliasing. And these are more pronounced on areas of curves or diagonals. There are fewer such areas with Sans-serif typefaces. Also in this particular comparison you can see that the Serif typeface has quite a mounted transition between the thin parts of its stroke and the thick parts of its stroke, whereas the Sans-serif typefaces are more mono weight, which is easier to render on screen.
But while this is broadly true--once again we should beware of over-generalizing-- if we use type sizes of 12 point and above for our body text and we make informed choices, there is no reason why Serif typefaces can't be just as readable as Sans-serif on-screen. In much the same way as so long as you handle the type appropriately, Sans-serif can be just as readable as Serif in print. There are many typefaces that have been designed specifically for use on screen.
The most common, and once we all have installed are Verdana, Trebuchet, and Georgia. While these are real good-looking fonts, they have over the last 10 years or so been the default choices for web site body copy, and thus they can appear to us a little bit generic, through no fault of their own. Generating screen documents in InDesign, we're not inhibited by the same concerns as design as creating HTML WebPages, who up until recently had to limit their font choices to typefaces that were both system fonts and have been specifically designed for screen, effectively restricting them to Verdana, Trebuchet, and Georgia.
Working in InDesign we can use any fonts we like just so long as we choose typefaces that render well in pixels. Evaluate your documents at 100% view size, and they render well in pixels either because they have been specifically designed for screen, or because the simplicity of their letter forms lends itself to pixels. And in addition to this, we obviously need to keep in mind the issues of size, leading, and line-length discussed in the previous movie.
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