Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Times New Roman for...everything?

Thanks to Microsoft, Times New Roman has become ubiquitous and probably the #1 most used font in work, school and just about everywhere the MS Word word processor is installed. Mainly because it's the default font for the program.

Times New Roman is a good font but not a very good font. At first I thought I was being picky and overthinking things. I use Word and PowerPoint a lot, and when I look at the final draft of my works, I couldn't help stare at how inconsistent Times New Roman looks. Most knowledgeable people (i.e. people who can explain these things better than me) cite Times New Roman's poor handling of letterspacing and wordspacing as one of the main issues.

I'm not someone with an art background and I can't really talk about things like a font's x-height or ascenders/descenders and so on (you can learn about that better here). What I do know is that some other fonts can do better job as the font of choice.

So what are the other fonts to use? Well, for starters, there's Georgia.

Yes, Georgia. I don't really understand why people don't use this font more often. It's elegant, it's optimised for screen display and it's part of the default set of fonts in Windows.

(Recently, I typed a group assignment using Georgia and after I passed it to a fellow group member, he changed everything back to Times New Roman before printing and binding it. Sabar je lah.)

Go ahead. Try Georgia. Or Tahoma, Verdana or Trebuchet MS. These are commonly found in all Windows PC and they are designed for screen readability. Times New Roman was initially designed for the newspaper and print. If you know CSS (cascading style sheets), you can use the techniques described here to make Times New Roman look wonderful for the Web.

One last thing. Please don't go overboard with fonts. A font file needs to installed first before a PC can properly display it. The fonts mentioned above easily found in all Windows PCs, but this is not true for all fonts. For example if I use the font Helvetica for my PowerPoint slides (since I have on it in my PC) and opens it on another PC without Helvetica installed, that PC will only choose a close equivalent font to it. Since different fonts handle spacing and sizing differently, I may find slides' content placed out of position, for example. To be safe, stick to common fonts like the ones mentioned just now.

And another thing. Installing lots and lots of fonts on a PC can slow it down considerably. Install what you need and you should be OK.

And another one last thing. Please give Georgia and the others a chance.

Ramadhan karim.


ieka said...

are u 'Georgia' fan? tapi 'dia' memang cantik di PC.. but if we want to use for something like documentations, minutes, thesis..still better guna Georgia, kah?

How about Arial? We have ISO standard for everyone to use Arial here.. Aku paling suka Garamond..but not sure every pc ada ke tak..

rol said...

Well, Georgia is quite gorgeous, but I like 'dia' because it's the only common serif font alternative other than Times New Roman. Garamond is nice and I like it too, but relatively it's smaller and may not be found on all PCs.

Some say for print (thesis, minutes, docs, etc), serif fonts provide a better readability while sans serif fonts are better suited for screen display.

Whether to use serif or sans serif, it depends on the requirement. Thesis requirements, for example, usually cite Times New Roman as the first choice font.

Strangely, Arial is not frequently mentioned compared to Verdana or Helvetica (common in Mac PCs). I would love to know your company's reason for choosing Arial.

Are2 said...

Ehemm...ehemm... nak menyibuk sket. hehehe lama tak join korang berdiskusi :)

Bg saya la, jarang jumpa students (dlm contact saya, students assignment la) yang guna Georgia, most of them guma Times New Roman, tak pun Arial. Hmmm tp biasa nyer guna Arial la, sbb kalau saya nak assignment yang 5 pages, guna TNR = 4 pages jer, but kalau guna Arial = 5 pages. Pandai tul diaorg nie...

ieka said...

actually previously for documentation they were using Comic Sans.. in which i think (well ko akan dgr byk perkataan i nanti..selffish sket:P) i think it is not seems to be professional sgt font die. so masa revised documentation format, rupanya ramai juga tak setuju font tu dan minta tukar.

i think i heard about problem in using Times New Roman masa belajar dulu. So masa pengerusi meeting tanya what is the alternative font nak guna, semua org diam dan tiba2 aku terckp Arial. dan semua org tiba2 bersetuju dgn aku.. hahahah sbbnya masa tu aku tak sempat check apa yg ada apa yg tidak font kat mereka..most of the PC lama so tak byk sgt font..yg aku jumpa sama TImes and Arial, and arial senang nak sebut + ingat.. kire2 kalau masa tu aku tau awal2 pasall Georgia aku akan pilih die..eheheh

oh pasal diorang setuju maybe pasal aku budak MMU yg tahu sikit pasal komputer (kononnya) dan pasla diorang malas nak pk..ekekke

rol said...

Pe kaba? Lama tak dengar citer?

Kalau aku berkenan dengan Arial, mungkin aku akan ikut apa student kau buat.

Oh gitu ceritanya. LOL!!!

But seriously, Comic Sans for documentation?

To tell you the truth, I didn't start using Georgia until my semester in MGT school, i.e. setahun yang lalu. Heh.

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