This post was sparked by a discussion on our forum. Of course, everybody’s opinion is going to differ, but here’s my 2 cents…
If you are publishing and expect people to read on their computer (web pages or most EXE format eBooks), I personally would never use Times Roman. The reason is that many traditional fonts looking either jagged (older Windows systems) or fuzzy (new Windows system) at smallish sizes on screen - well at least to my eyes. Read this article to understand why.
Another consideration for on screen publishing, is if you use exotic fonts, that you have on your system, users may not have them on their system and the page can end up displaying totally different on their systems.
Verdana is probably the best choice for on-screen, as it’s clear even at small point sizes in this use (it was designed specifically for on-screen use), and is available on pretty much all Windows PCs. Unfortunately it does tend to be wide (meaning it’s not always suitable for packing into a menu or small space) and doesn’t look so great at larger point sizes. This is one reason why a lot of web pages use Arial.
If you are printing the eBook out, or expect people to print out, then choice of font is much more flexible, because prints are usually much higher resolution. I actually kind of like Times Roman in this format.
A general rule of typography is not to mix too many fonts.
Traditional wisdom is to use a Serif typeface for small text, and a Sans Serif typeface for headlines etc. You do see many print publications (even broadsheet newspapers!) breaking this “rule”, and even more professional online publications breaking it, but it’s still a good rule of thumb if you’re totally lost about what design to follow.
Disagree? Comments? Head on over to our forum and tell me what you think.