The body text you are reading was typed with a font that has serifs. Serifs are the “little feet” or strokes at the end of some letters. The headline above this paragraph was typed with a sans-serif font. Sans means “without” in French, so a sans-serif font has no “little feet” at the bottom of letters.
Most printed newspapers and magazines use a serif font for small body text to help guide the readers eye across the line of type. A serif font usually has thick and thin downward strokes, which is harder to read online. Printed publications are usually prepared with a higher resolution between 180 and 300 ppi (pixels per inch). But online publications viewed on a computer screen or electronic device have a lower resolution of 72 ppi. So, those thin downward strokes are harder to read online, so most web designers choose a sans-serif font without thin downward strokes. Most sans-serif fonts have thick strokes, except Optima.
In the sample above, most sans serif fonts are not thick and thin; most sans serif letters are thick throughout, except Optima. Because they don’t have thin strokes, they are easier to read online.
If you use Adobe Dreamweaver to design a web page or email promotions, the default fonts are displayed in the Properties panel across the bottom. A web designer could choose the first choice of Verdana, Geneva, or other sans-serif font that the viewer has installed.
Verdana is a font that was specifically designed for web pages because it is easy for read online.
Type should be easy to read. Choose a font that is easy for your reader to read. Century Schoolbook is the most easily recognized font because most children’s books were typed with it, especially thirty years ago when there weren’t as many fonts to choose.
Traditionally, most books were typed with a serif font like Century Schoolbook or Times. When web page design was introduced, it was found that a sans serif font with thicker strokes—rather than thick and thin letters—was easier to read online. Then, along came eBooks. What if you’re publishing a printed book and an eBook? Stay Tuned.