Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Why Georgia? Why?

(a.k.a. Times New Roman for...everything? Part II)

From the last post, I sense that people think I'm asking them to use the font Georgia over Times New Roman and all other fonts.

Why Georgia? Why not Verdana, Arial or any of the rest?

Well, the answer to that is this. Times New Roman is a common, serif font. Hence, a good substitute for it would be another common, serif font.


Now, about common fonts. From the previous post:
...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 in it on 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.
Common fonts are also referred to as core fonts for the Web. Basically it means that these fonts are found in virtually every PC and can therefore be safely used for the Web (as well as other programs that uses text like Word and PowerPoint). Both Georgia and Times New Roman are part of the core fonts, and they're both serif fonts.

The whole point of core fonts is ensure that they are available in most, if not all, PCs. Remember, font files are referenced or pointed to. Based on this understanding, if in your PC the Times New Roman font file is either not installed, deleted or not found, your PC cannot recognise Times New Roman or display it. Simple as that.

Serif and sans serif

What are serif fonts, then? For that one, let's together revise our secondary school art class lesson on font types.

This is serif (Georgia)

This is sans serif (Verdana)

Serif font are fonts with serifs. The red parts in the picture below are what are called as serifs.

Sans serif fonts are naturally fonts without serifs. 'Sans' is French for 'without'.

Let's sum up why Georgia is a good substitute for Times New Roman. 1) It's one of common/core fonts. 2) It's a serif font.

A lot of people insist on serif font for official documents, thesis, reports, etc. What I'm proposing is that for these purposes, try using Georgia, if you're allowed to do so. Especially when you're preparing them using a PC word processor like MS Word. Georgia, as I've also mentioned, has a superior wordspacing and letterspacing capabilities. The result is a better-looking, more readable print-out of your work. Georgia is gorgeous on screen, in print and easier on the eyes.

Take a quick at the contents of books, particularly paperbacks. You'll probably notice mostly serif fonts are used. However, for textbooks, magazines and the Web, a mixture of both serif and sans serif is often employed.

What about Garamond?

ieka mentions that she likes Garamond. Garamond is also a fine font. In fact, Harry Potter books uses Garamond. But Garamond is not part of the core fonts and it is also not part of the fonts supplied with Windows XP. These considerations make Garamond an unsuitable substitute for Times New Roman.

What about the rest?

Let's say that you work exclusively with Windows XP PCs at both work and home. Then it would be OK for you to use any of the XP-supplied fonts. In this case, check out Palatino, another very recommended serif font with a good on screen readability.

If you like to design posters, brochures and others, you'll also likely to install new fonts for your PCs. This shouldn't be much of a problem if you print your own work. The problem will surface when you print your work using a different PC, with a different set of fonts installed in it. And be aware that not all fonts appear the same on screen as well as in print.

The subject of fonts is a very fascinating one. I didn't care much about it myself until read a very long essay by a font expert berating a particularly badly designed font that he saw in a book. At first I thought this guy was make a big deal out of nothing, but after I learned more about fonts and its history, I started to appreciate the ingenuity and effort that goes into designing one.

To people who still uses Times New Roman all the time, I would like to say, "There's more to life than just the default setting."

Have a productive and blessed Ramadhan.


mudin001 said...

"There's more to life than just the default setting."

haha... that's nice!

rol said...

That's hacker thinking, bro. Push limits and explore possibilities.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
r.o.l. said...

Dear anonymous, I accidentally removed your comment. I apologise. I don't know how to undo that mistake. Nevertheless, I agree, Calibri is very likeable.

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