Typographic Design Can Improve The World

The font you choose matters, it sets the tone of what is read and the overall look of what’s presented. A simple decision around fonts can turn something beautiful into an ugly mess and vice versa. Be conscious of what you pick.

Not only can fonts make things look nice they can also improve the lives of people around the world. The seemingly simple act of making things legible is more complex than you probably think.

But elsewhere, life-saving typefaces are still making notable appearances on the road — this time inside the car. In 2012 researchers at MIT partnered up with the typeface company Monotype to tackle the problem of driver distraction. They thought that if they could design easy-to-read screens and displays for inside a vehicle, drivers would spend less time trying to decipher words — and more time with their eyes on the road. To make those screens easier to read, they tried tweaking the typeface.

They settled on a “humanist” style typeface for the job, which has more space between characters and easily distinguishable letterforms. Research suggests that humanist styles are more legible than the widely used geometric and square-shaped typefaces often used by car manufacturers. Here’s a graphic from the MIT/Monotype study that demonstrates the difference in counter shapes and other aspects that affect legibility:

Pro tip: don’t use comic sans.
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