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fonts in digital signage

Although often overlooked, font choice says a lot about how a brand wants to be perceived and can be a deciding factor for people reading the message. With consumers having so much choice, first impressions are becoming progressively more important to get right, so even the seemingly small things such as font can contribute to their decision.

Two main font types have subtle yet important differences, which are serif and sans-serif fonts.

  1. Serif fonts have decorative finishing strokes, giving flair to the end of a typeface. The fonts Georgia and Times New Roman are well-known serif fonts and are often used in books.

  1. Sans-serif fonts have no flourishes, they are simple and precise. Two well-known fonts in this category are Arial, and Calibri, a default Microsoft Word font.

The research available is quite contradictory. Even though the consensus among researchers is that sans-serif fonts are attributed to higher levels of readability, research differs regarding the results.

Bernard, Liao, and Mills find that people can read serif fonts faster but they also find a higher preference for sans-serif fonts. The search for a conclusive answer has been ongoing since typesetting came about in the 1890s. With this in mind, font choice may just be down to preference, or at least what marketers ‘feel’ consumers will like the most. As fonts are a way of adding flair to a brand, the choice of font may also be how marketers want their brand to be portrayed.

Our take on it, based purely on the design of the fonts, is that sans-serif is more suitable for digital screens. Although the research lacks clarity on which is more effective, the underlying design of the two fonts is why we recommend sans-serif. They are unobtrusive and clear, giving the text a clean, easy-to-read finish, whereas serif fonts have that little bit extra that can lead to deviation away from the message, and we want to make sure our clients have the clearest content possible.

Bear in mind that large format LED displays don't have the pixel pitch (equivalent to DPI in print) to allow for fine serif fonts to be displayed correctly at lower point sizes. For these types of display, we'd always recommend a sans serif.

Pixel Inspiration February 8th 2021


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