Don't we have enough fonts?

Tuesday 27 October, 17:00 (20 minutes)

Dr Kevin Larson, Researcher, Microsoft Advanced Reading Technologies

People who aren’t typographers or graphic designers often wonder why there are so many typefaces. Few can distinguish differences between typefaces beyond a serif / sans-serif difference, particularly with text faces. If readers can’t detect these differences, then we are wasting a lot of time and effort. Many researchers now believe that that people have two evaluative systems – one that involves slow, effortful, deliberative thinking – and one that is automatic, fast, and pre-attentive. The second, called rapid cognition, allows people to make rapid judgments with relatively little information. For example, it only takes 50ms (1/20th of a second) to make a judgment about the aesthetics of a website that is similar to a judgment made after a long exposure. Our studies demonstrate that the personality of a typeface is identified with rapid cognition and that it impacts our recognition of the words written with the typeface.