Question of the week: What's the best font for the Web?

I’ve spent some time this past week working on the back end of OJR, but, as such things go, now my thoughts go toward the front end of what a website should look like. And so, we have our question of the week.

What’s the best typeface for displaying text on the Web? I’m sure that many of you have your favorite studies, focus groups and/or personal biases to defend your choice. And we’d love to read about those in the comments.

For the undecided, I’ve provided a one-line sample of each, using a style call for those type faces. If you do not have it on your machine, the line likely will render in either Arial (OJR’s default) or whatever your browser is set to serve in lieu of Arial. (Update: I didn’t adjust the type sizes for the example below, and some typefaces work better with larger sizes, so please consider that when comparing the typefaces.)

Here is an example of Arial.
Here is an example of Courier New.
Here is an example of Georgia.
Here is an example of Times New Roman.
Here is an example of Trebuchet MS.
Here is an example of Verdana.

Please explain why you chose what you voted for, in the comments. How is your choice of typeface working for readers on your website?

Personally, I’ve mostly used Arial on my websites, though I’ve begun to use more Verdana. I’ve always been adhered to the idea that sans-serif fonts worked best for body type online, but given the better quality of monitors these days, and no longer so sure. I could be swayed by some good arguments….

About Robert Niles

Robert Niles is the former editor of OJR, and no longer associated with the site. You may find him now at


  1. I like Georgia, but at that size? No. Arial is a good default, as is Verdana.

  2. Bernie Russell says:

    I’d go for a combination of Georgia and Verdana on the basis that they were designed for the screen.
    But they look a bit clunky on the printed page, so I suppose we should set print-friendly versions in Times and Arial?
    Plus I have a soft spot for Helvetica, the best of the sans serif fonts.

  3. says:

    Verdana, as arial, is a non serif font, so it’s easier to read on screen.

  4. Arial or Verdana.
    I find Verdana slightly more readable than Arial in body type sizes, but its added width makes copy take up considerably more space.
    Arial seems to look sharper at headline sizes.

  5. says:

    I find it difficult to select just one, because it often depends on the purpose and audience. For instance, comic sans mf might serve the purpose of a site dedicated to education on the K-3 level or for a site working with older people. I have found by experience that comic sans mf is easier to read for the older reader whose sight is limited or fading.

  6. Verdana.

    Very clean and readable with a bit more tracking than Arial, which I also like.

    Good question, by the way.

  7. says:

    I love the look of Trebuchet for personal correpondence, but if I had a website I would use Bookman — I think it’s cleaner than Georgia and Times New Roman, much easier to read.

    I’ve always read, that sans serif is a no-no for any kind of printed text, but I’ve not come across any studies or information that indicates the same for the web. I would presume, however, that if it’s easier for readers to read serif type on a printed page, the same would be true for a monitor page.

    My opinion might be skewed, though, by the fact that I hate reading from a monitor…!

  8. Steve Crozier says:

    Got to go with Georgia, for old-school and new-school reasons. You didn’t say what *kind* of text, so I assumed body copy. Old school says you use a serif font for body copy, and I have to agree that it’s friendlier to the eye for large chunks of text. New-school reason: Georgia was built for online viewing and renders well across various platforms. Sans serif, Verdana every time. Arial looks anemic to me. We use Georgia for body copy, Verdana for headlines. To see an example:

  9. says:

    I would go for Verdana; it is more readable, elegant and easy on the eye.

    Dr. N K Trikha, INDIA

  10. Seeking a one-size-fits-all solution for the Web does violence to one of the most important attributes of the Web – narrow “casting” / user friendliness. Even if that were not the case, and you approached Web sites as though they were any other “publication,” you need to take into account 1) your audience 2) your message 3) the specific content and 4) your own mission, pretty much in that order. On item 3, I happen to use/like Verdana and MS Trebuchet a lot because they are eminently readable on screen. But they are both expanded faces (especially Verdana) and may not work well if you are delivering tabular data that calls for a more condensed face. MS Trebuchet borders on the avant-garde in design and may not be well received by staid, conservative audiences.

  11. says:

    The serif vs. sans-serif debate has been thoroughly tested by usability researchers (including myself). While in print serif fonts seem to have a slight advantage (giving better visual cues), online (probably because of the nature of the display) this difference does not exist. Reading speeds online were not statistically different between serif and sans-serif.

    It is therefore ok to use either, so long as you do it consistently. Consistency within the body of the text is key. You can use a different font type for headers vs. body text, and so forth – but within a given paragraph, you should not switch font families or types. It slows reading time and distracts the reader, reducing the usability of your site and the likelihood they will continue to read or return. Companies that always show their name in Georgia or some-such, even in the body of their Arial text, are hurting their branding more than they help it.

  12. says:

    I prefer Georgia for body copy (though at a slightly larger-than-default size) and Verdana otherwise. That said, typeface selection is far from the only thing that should be considered when designing type for Web sites and many fail to realize as much. More important are line length and line height, in particular.

  13. says:

    How about “comic sans journalism” given the quality the the later.

  14. says:

    None of the above. Instead, allow users’ browsers to choose their preferred font for them. I have my default set to Georgia. Others have it on Times New Roman.

    Unless you have an overwhelming reason to override a user’s default choice, don’t.

  15. It’s a shame that ‘faces don’t transmit the depth of information and context on the web that they do in print. I love reading Edward Tufte (The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information) wax eloquent about using Gill Sans or Bembo in his books, but with screens we still seem stuck in the land of maximum compatibility and legibility, concerns that print only has to fix on the back end.

    Perhaps e-ink formats like the (shudder) Kindle will liberate (hyper) text from its default font doldrums.


  16. Personally I prefer Arial which I am using for all my webpages. It look nice to me

  17. says:

    Arial, definitely, although I think any font without a serif is good for screen reading. I think it’s easier to read if the letters don’t seem to be linked to each other combined with the flicker of the screen.

  18. I liked Verdana for reasons cited above, but now I wish I took the test without knowing the names. I might have recognized a couple, but now I yearn for a slightly more objective way to see what I like.