Most articles and books are written in the conventional fonts like Computer Modern Roman, Times New Roman, etc. which are similar to each others. Why aren't more fonts used?

I wrote my course this year in a cursive font and it didn't cause any problem to any students. I'm afraid however that if I do the same in an article, the article will be ignored. Would you take an article written in such a font seriously? Would you even read it?

A sample of unconventional fonts:


  • 40
    Why would you ever pick a hard to read font (like most of these)?
    – Dirk
    Aug 1, 2018 at 12:32
  • 13
    You know that journals reformat articles to follow their house style, so they will change the font of your article anyway when it gets published, right? Aug 1, 2018 at 13:14
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    Aug 1, 2018 at 18:00
  • I think the best reference on use of fonts and related issues is this book: The Non-Designer's Design Book (4th Edition) by Robin Williams. ISBN-13: 978-0133966152 Aug 2, 2018 at 14:10

8 Answers 8


Personally, I would need a really good reason to even try to read it. My eyesight isn't the best anymore and all of the examples you give here are very difficult for me.

Even in a course situation, you may have students with reading difficulties, either eyesight or dyslexia. So this seems ill advised.

I think you want the clearest font you can find so that the ideas stand out, not the typography. There are exceptions, I'll admit, for very specialized work.

  • 14
    @inéquation if you have to ask, the answer is likely yes. Aug 1, 2018 at 12:42
  • 2
    @inéquation, yes. It is hard to read for more than one or two sentences. But then I can seldom read my own script handwriting anymore either. It goes beyond fonts, of course, though you may not have control. A fairly high contrast between the print and the page is also essential.
    – Buffy
    Aug 1, 2018 at 12:42
  • 2
    @inéquation I personally find this unnecessarily difficult to get a message across (yes, it's hard to read). And if you are a teacher or educator, that mainly is your job. Unless that font makes the message more clear (which in this case I can't see why it would), why would you want to make it difficult for people to obtain information?
    – st-h
    Aug 1, 2018 at 14:40
  • 1
    As a sidenote: When I went to university, we had a course written in yellow font on blue-screen blue background. It was horrible for everyone - the whole lecture was, but anyways - nobody dared to complain.
    – st-h
    Aug 1, 2018 at 14:43

No, neither I nor anyone I know would take your article seriously. It would most likely be rejected before anyone even read its contents.

We use these standard fonts because they have been proven to be easy to read, and when you are writing a article you don't want your reader being distracted by the ridiculousness of your font.

Also, take into consideration that not everyone can see very well. Picking a font that someone with a disability can read is vitally important as well. More here.

My recommendation is also to change your fonts for your course. You may not notice it, but I would posit that it is slowing down their ability to comprehend the material twofold.

  • Since they write in cursive why won't they be able to read in cursive?
    – user5402
    Aug 1, 2018 at 12:34
  • 4
    Writing uses a different brain mechanism than reading. In fact some blind people who have lost their eyesight can write just fine. Reading on the other hand can be very difficult with disabilities such as dyslexia like Buffy said below.
    – Dylan
    Aug 1, 2018 at 12:35
  • 3
    @inéquation when I look at writings just like the fonts you gave example in your question, I started to think that they would be either a private letter or just a very old manuscript, instead of a scientific research article. I think this is the reason most people reject these cursive fonts and others, otherwise you would simply enlarge the font to clearly see, I also have difficulties while reading articles as they are now. The font is more of a standard.
    – user91300
    Aug 1, 2018 at 12:48
  • 2
    @inéquation That's a similar argument to "since you write with your right hand, why won't you be able to write with your left one?"
    – user68958
    Aug 1, 2018 at 15:39

I do not see a general problem in using different fonts, but your examples are rather extreme.

It is ok if your prefer sans serif fonts, or if you dislike them. It is also ok if you choose from the palette of different fonts that used in contemporary English books.

But I would refrain from using overly styled, old fashioned, or handwritten fonts because most of the readers are not used to them. It will slow down their reading and may give them the feeling that you do not know the standards (you could also print your whole text in blue, or use landscape paper, or number your sections in hexadecimals, but do not expect that people like it).


We choose conventional fonts in academic writing because they are most legible to the majority of people. In the comments you said:

Maybe the problem is that you're not used to cursive.

Why is this relevant? The people that are "not used to cursive" are in the majority so it doesn't make sense to use cursive. Anyone can be trained to learn another script but that is extra, unnecessary work. The point of academic writing is to convey knowledge and the contents of a paper in the most succinct possible way. The font should not get in the way of communicating information. Therefore, we go with a font that the majority of people can read with the least amount of extra effort. The fonts you posted do not fall into this category.

See for example, this journal article: The optimal viewing position effect in printed versus cursive words: Evidence of a reading cost for the cursive font.

The authors conclude:

The results, obtained in both adults and children, indicated that participants were less efficient in word recognition with the cursive font than with the printed font. This is likely due to the fact that the processing of the cursive font involves a large number of perceptual difficulties. Prior research has demonstrated the important role of inter-letter spaces in saccade computation (Ducrot & Pynte, 2002). It has been hypothesized that initial landing positions are determined by an eye-guiding mechanism based on low-level perceptual processing that detects the presence of spaces between characters. When the stimulus is discrete, the reader takes the direction of visual exploration into account and attempts to land left of center (for a left-to-right language), in preparation for subsequent left-to-right attentional scanning. When the stimulus turns out to be continuous, no attentional scanning is implemented. In the case of the cursive font, with the absence of physical delimitation between letters, participants were unable to use between-character spacing to guide eye movements and the within-word eye behavior was disrupted by the continuousness of cursive stimuli (even though the stimuli used were character-based strings). This interpretation is also in line with the hypothesis proposed by Lorette (1999) claiming that the processing of a cursive font involves strong segmentation difficulties. Moreover, this is also in agreement with several studies that have shown that the OVP effect gradually strengthens as inter-letter spacing, and hence letter eccentricity increase (Nazir et al., 1992; Nazir et al., 1998).

Note that this effect was seen even in children who exclusively use handwritten cursive!


My response might result quite personal, but had a very negative feeling when focusing on the sample texts provided.

I felt like I have to force my eyes to focus on the characters and I got some trouble to understand the text.

When you're not familiar with the text, you already need to concentrate to absorb the concepts. If you add the stress to figure out what the symbols stand for, it results exhausting.


Books are typeset using boring fonts because they are to be read, not looked at.

Fonts were and are designed through ages on a purpose. Really old fonts were engraved in stones, old fonts were handwritten using ink and they look accordingly to it.

Since Guttenberg's invention of press and hot typesetting the reasoning changed through time from easy-to-write to easy-to-read. In "recent" times the fonts started to carry the design feature as well.

Conventional fonts, like Computer Modern, Times, Palatino, Book Antiqua, are derived from roman engraved fonts - serifs make the line end look smooth - and improved to be easy to read and not to disturb the screen when in large paragraphs.

Fonts like Arial, Helvetica were designed to be easy-to-read on screen and compared to serif fonts there may be problems to distiguish vertical line| from majuscule I and minuscule l. (I'll be Ill trying to decoce this sentence.)

Fonts in your example are on the other hand focused on appereance of each glyph or each word, not the whole text. Their field is logotype, short fancy signs etc.

Try to generate 5 paragraphs of lorem-ipsum and set different font styles to them. You will see how much easier is to read the boring fonts compared to the fancy ones.


In addition to the reasons given in the other answers, many fields have specific symbols and terminology that are easiest to read in the context of a conventional font.

I don't believe you specified your field, but in mathematics for example a cursive R, a bold R and a roman R can all have different meanings and are purposefully easy to distinguish from the surrounding text. When placed in a typed longhand article these symbols do become harder to read and understand. Many other subjects also involve very specific notation that should ideally be unambiguous and obviously separate from the surrounding text, and using an unnecessarily fancy font is distracting at best.


If you ask me to define these fonts with a word I might say: funny, joyfull, merry, playful, childlish

So if you consider them for an academic article, don't use them!

It could be nice for a party invitation. But not so good for formal reading material.

A very special example comes to my mind. It's from the book The Little Prince: a Turkish astronomer discovers the little prince's asteroid in 1909 but the International Astronomical Congress does not believe him because he is dressed in Turkish costume.

Eventually, the Turkish dictator makes a law that everyone, under pain of death, must wear only English costume. After that, the astronomer presents his findings again. This second time his was wearing a suit, and the Congress believes and applauds him.

Prejudice is stupid, I know, but if you have only one chance to get your article reviewed, you should not discredit or risk it by the use of non-academic presentation parameters.

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