Sunday, June 03, 2007

Computer fonts offer new way to typecast writers

The perceptions you give with your font selections ...

"Rorschach tests are fine for those who think creepy inkblots are the window to the soul. But for Canadians who prefer a more contemporary shortcut to psychoanalysis, researchers say look no farther than your preferred typeface.

A study out of Wichita State University in Kansas has found the choice of font used in e-mails, web text, digital scrapbooking and other onscreen communication sends a strong message about the person behind the keystrokes.

For example, a monospaced typeface such as Courier New, in which every character - from the Ito the W - has the same width, implies dullness and lack of imagination; a whimsical script, such as Gigi, points to a person who's highly creative, feminine and unstable.

But unlike standard personality tests, which reveal who you are, the Wichita typeface analysis only indicates how others perceive you.

"I think it's important for people to realize that typefaces do have inherent personalities, and those personalities do translate to the perception of the document," says Dawn Shaikh, co-author of the study and a PhD graduate in human factors psychology. "It helps determine whether people trust you, see you as professional, see you as mature, honest, and all of these other things."

... Monospaced fonts were strongly linked with words like dull, plain, conforming and unimaginative. Modern display typefaces such as Impact and Rockwell Xbold were most associated with the adjectives masculine, assertive, rude, sad and coarse, while serif fonts such as Times New Roman and Georgia scored highest on words like stable, practical, mature and formal.

Scripts and funny fonts such as Gigi, Comic Sans and Monotype Corsiva were connected to the adjectives youthful, happy, creative, rebellious, feminine, casual and cuddly, but simultaneously drew the highest scores for instability and impracticality.

... Sans-serif typefaces such as Verdana, Century Gothic and Arial, which lack small lines at the tips of characters, didn't rate significantly in any adjective category at all. Shaikh says this unfussy font family is an ideal choice for professionals who want readers to focus on the content, rather than the personality traits, of the typeface."    (Continued via Canada.com)    [Usability Resources]

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