Using Fonts Sensibly

by Charles Maurer


If you want to minimize fiddling with fonts, write in Hoefler Text. This is the best all-purpose font for text. It is easier to read than most fonts on the screen, it is highly legible on paper, and its proportions suit almost any layout.

To make life easier for your eyes while in front the computer, work in Rockwell. Rockwell is unusally legible on screen. However, printouts with Rockwell are not well suited for final copies of anything important.

To maximize the impact of a finished product, use:

If a layouts calls for a contrasting font for headlines, footnotes and/or small blocks of text in boxes or side-bars, use Optima with Hoefler Text and Helvetica Neue with Times New Roman.


Fonts used to be cast in foundries and sold by foundries; today, although they work exclusively with computers, font houses are still called foundries. Linotype (inventors of the typesetting machine) and Monotype are the two largest foundries. They produce four of the five fonts above. Here is more information on those fonts and on the ubiquitous Arial/Helvetica: