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The Legibility of a Font

Fonts are usually selected for either their legibility or their stylistic effect.

Legibility is the measure of how quickly a font can be read.

The balance between legibility and style is one of the important factors to be considered when choosing a font for a design.


Very Legible

Serif fonts like Times New Roman above are the easiest to read. They usually appeal more to an older target audience who are more concerned with content than style.


Less Legible

Novelty fonts like Carnivale are fun but are less legible and tend to date quickly. They tend to appeal more to a younger target audience who often prefer style over content.



Calligraphic or script fonts like Wedding Text, especially in capitals, are often the most illegible.


Color Legibility

The choice of color in relation to its background can also have a strong effect on the legibility of a font.

The Style of a Font


'Times New Roman'

Based on the carved letter forms on the buildings of Ancient Rome and used as the typeface of The Times newspaper today, the 'Times New Roman' font represents the voice of authority. This idea is reinforced here by its dark blue color - the color of law enforcement.

'Times New Roman' was designed in 1931 by British designers Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent. However, certain authorities now dispute this and believe it to be the work of the American designer, Starling Burgess.



Various elements contribute to the sense of disorder in the 'Bedrock' font above. The primitive shape of each letter form is chiseled to form a crooked design, while the irregular arrangement and different colors heighten the effect.

Designed in 1995, it was probably inspired by 'The Flinstones' who lived in Bedrock, and it reflects the anarchy of a cartoon world.



Anger is expressed in the aggressive and calculatingly crude calligraphy of the 'Chiller' font. Its dangerous aura is amplified by the symbolic use of red - the color of rage.

'Chiller' was created by the British designer, Andrew Smith.


'VAG Rounded BT'

An ice cold blue color, smooth rounded corners and a long relaxing shadow, all contribute to the feeling of calm in the 'VAG Rounded BT' font.

BT stands for Bitstream, the company from Cambridge MA, USA who designed the font.



'Ravie' has the energy and bouncy movement necessary for a fun-filled font. Bright primary colors enhance its cheerful form.

'Ravie' was designed by Ken O'Brien in 1993-94 at the Art Center in Pasadena, California.


'Slipstream LET'

The combination of italic type, graduated color and blurred form creates the illusion of speed using the 'Slipstream LET' font.

Slipstream was designed by the Letraset Type Studio.


'Futura XBlk (extra black) BT'

By their nature bold fonts shout. 'Futura XBlk (extra black) BT' is a no nonsense, sans-serif font that gets its message across loud and clear.

Paul Renner (1878-1956), a typographer associated with the Bauhaus in Germany designed the original Futura fonts. They were the most popular sans-serif fonts in the first half of the 20th century.


'Broadway Engraved'

Certain fonts inherit a reputation for style through their association with a particular time or place. 'Broadway Engraved' evokes the Art Deco era which was one of the most popular design movements of the early twentieth century. A metallic gold finish completes the stylish look.

This font is based on 'Broadway' which was designed by Morris Fuller Benton between 1925-28.

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