Blogging

Serif or Sans Serif: What 20 Popular News Sites Decided

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When it comes to blog design, one can spend a good bit of time debating whether to go with a serif or sans serif typeface for different portions of the blog.

Here’s an example of the differences between the two types of lettering. Serif fonts have “tails” at the edges of letters and symbols. Consider the letter i in the examples: serif has horizontal lines that block off the tops and bottoms of the letters. Sans Serif fonts, on the other hand, have no tails: so for the letter i, it’s simply the straight line and dot without any tails.

According to Urbanfonts.com, serif fonts are easier to read in printed works, while sans serif fonts are better on the web. This is because, they say, serifs make the individual letters more distinctive and easier for our brains to identify quickly. On the web, however, since the typical computer monitor may have a smaller resolution that a printed page, sans serif may be a better choice there.

But with greater screen resolutions these days or greater font sizes on the web, those guidelines may no longer apply. The only “right” or “wrong” answer is what your audience decides and what they (hopefully) tell you about how easy it is to read your site.

To that end, I decided to take a look at 20 popular news sites to see which type of fonts their designers chose. I realize most of the people who read this won’t be writing a news site, but the readership of these sites is big enough that the choices they made might be interesting to anyone debating which to try on their own site.

In no particular order, here’s what I found:

  • ABC News: SANS for headlines and body text
  • CBS News: SANS for headlines, SERIF for body text
  • NBC News: SANS for headlines and body text
  • Fox News: SANS for headlines and body text
  • Huffington Post: SERIF for headlines and body text (SANS for headlines and body text on front page)
  • CNN: SANS for headlines and body text (SANS for headlines, SERIF for body text on front page)
  • Yahoo News: SANS for headlines and body text
  • AOL News: SANS for headlines and body text
  • Google News: SANS for headlines and body text in excerpts (links open to originating websites)
  • The New York Times: SERIF in headlines and body text
  • USA Today: SANS in headlines and body text
  • The Washington Post: SANS for headlines, SERIF for body text (SERIF for headlines and SANS for body text on front page)
  • The Guardian: SERIF for headlines and body text
  • The Wall Street Journal: SERIF for headlines and body text (SERIF for headlines and SANS for body text on front page)
  • BBC News: SANS for headlines and body text
  • The Los Angeles Times: SERIF for headlines and body text
  • TMZ.com: SANS for headlines and body text
  • Reuters: SERIF for headlines and body text (SANS for headlines and body text on front page)
  • Time: SANS for headlines, SERIF for body text (SANS for headlines and body text on front page)
  • CBC: SANS for headlines and body text

Serif fonts also have a more traditional look, which might explain the use of serif fonts in a majority of websites of traditional newspapers. Sans serif fonts seem a bit more casual and comfortable, even more modern to some.

I chose sans serif for this blog primarily because I thought it was easier to read. I do feel it’s a bit more modern-looking, too, but for me, ease of reading was most important.

Your Turn:

Which do you prefer for your blog or for reading someone else’s: Serif or Sans Serif?

Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.