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Best Serif Faces for the screen

8.Jul.2005 7.50am
jwalton's picture

I’m curious if people have any favorite “screen-friendly” serif faces. I am thinking headline/subhead size, image/flash based (I’m not talking about “HTML” text fonts here).

I ask because some clearly work better than others. for instance Bodoni with its extreme thins tends to break apart at anything other than large sizes. What are the serif faces that hold up better in digital media?

I’ve been poking around this site (please get the search feature working soon!) looking for a topic about this, but didn’t see one. If it exists, please point me to it.



8.Jul.2005 11.02am
hrant's picture

Georgia is great, for smaller sizes. Yes, even anti-aliased.

But if you can wait for my Atanasia...


Stephen Coles
9.Jul.2005 3.32pm
Stephen Coles's picture

I think Fedra Serif A is ideal here.
You can test it at FontShop.

10.Jul.2005 7.25pm
bergamot's picture

I think pretty much anything works well at headline/subhead size, provided it doesn’t have any excessively thin strokes. (as you noticed)

Most fonts specifically made for screen use are only hinted with small text sizes in mind anyway.

Maybe if you narrowed down what feeling you’re aiming for?

11.Jul.2005 8.39am
dux's picture

I would have though the rule of the thumb is something with minimal stroke modulation, so any old-style based font would be perfect.

11.Jul.2005 10.43am
bergamot's picture

I don’t think stroke modulation is a problem as long as the width of the narrowest line isn’t too low.

In other words, a heavy black serif might have tons of stroke modulation, but look fine on the screen because the minimum stroke width is still pretty beefy.

Norbert Florendo
12.Jul.2005 12.30pm
Norbert Florendo's picture

Here’s a short article by Daniel Will-Harris called The Best Faces for the Screen, oddly enough. He does add several typeface recommendation plus in his opinion why.

Yes, I’m old, but I’m back in style!

William Berkson
12.Jul.2005 1.41pm
William Berkson's picture

This article by David Earls is quite interesting on type for the TV screen.

13.Jul.2005 5.00am
dberlow's picture

“Most fonts specifically made for screen use are only hinted with small text sizes in mind anyway.”

I’m pretty sure this is not entirely true. The fact is that most fonts hinted for use on computer screens contain hints for all ranges of sizes. What is true is that some outline fonts designed to be hinted and used on computer screens have been designed with small sizes in mind, so like any good text face the lowercase is too big and spindly for larger sizes...

What makes these fonts no better than anything else for you purpose, is that
“headline/subhead size, image/flash based” specification. So, you are best off selecting something with niether small black, nor small white features, be they thin strokes, spaces ’twixt serifs, or anythinig else that a relatively unintelligent rasterizer would confuse with nothing, and make disappear, or something else that’d make these wee features look bigger than they are s’posed to be.

So, yeah, don’t Bodoni.

Nick Shinn
13.Jul.2005 8.12am
Nick Shinn's picture

In Photoshop and Fireworks, you can adjust the anti-aliasing “strength” of the font, which means that you can use just about any font, except Bodoni 72, at 18pt and above, in those programs.