Do Typefaces Have an Impact on Credibility?

Getting someone to read your writing is one thing, but getting someone to believe your words is something else. And just telling the truth isn't enough, according to a simple study conducted by noted documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. By having people read a passage from a book in a variety of fonts, Morris discovered that readers are far more inclined to believe something written in the Baskerville typeface rather than any of the other five fonts he used. Morris borrowed a passage from The Beginning of Infinity by physicist David Deutsch and employed a program that showed the passage in a different font each time it was opened. Readers were then asked whether they agreed with what the passage said. They weren't told that everyone was seeing the same passage in a variety of fonts, but were asked only to decide how trustworthy the passage was. Surprisingly, a clear majority trusted the passage when it was written in the Baskerville typeface. For the record, Comic Sans was viewed as the least trustworthy typeface.

Facts about fonts:

  • The U.S. Declaration of Independence was printed in Caslon, a popular British typeface.
  • The Helvetica font was created in Switzerland; Helvetica is the Latin name for Switzerland.
  • At least one study has found that diners assume chefs have more skill if their menus are printed in fancy fonts.
More Info: Design Observer

Discussion Comments


Why in the world would you fail to mention the other 3 fonts used and their ranking?

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