Whenever we begin the production phase of annual report season (which is in January for us), I start surveying font faces for use in the books. The aim is to achieve typographic clarity and visual comfort for the reader for the large sets of copy and financials, so I look for a face with a good balance of both legibility and readability.
The legibility of the individual letterform should be distinguishable from the other letterforms in the alphabet, so that it can be understood when reading. A letterform should also uphold the unique characteristics of that typeface family that make it recognizable from other typefaces. Meaning, by looking at a lowercase ‘a’, I can tell what typeface the letterform is from based on its characteristics.
The readability of the typeface is based on properties which make it easy to read. Being able to read full columns without strain or guessing make the typeface very readable. In larger sets of copy, such as editorial or book reading, then it’s a a face with effective typographic clarity.
‘Serifs guide the horizontal flow of the eyes’ is the common argument in the favor of using serif typefaces for large amounts of body copy. I have found three typefaces have very successful visual properties that are great for both legibility and readbility.
The all have:
- Tall x-heights
- Consistent stroke widths
- Large counters
- Pronounced ascenders and descenders
Because of these qualities, the below typefaces are very good contenders for editorial use. An example of typographic anatomy for your reference is placed at the beginning of this post (image courtesy of bastoky.com). Here are my choices for excellent typefaces for both legibility and readability (screenshots courtesy of fontshop.com). I hope these work nicely for your projects as well.
Charter Pro, for it’s beautiful old-style numerals.
Utopia, because it is a workhorse and has a large family.
Plantin is a good workhouse and the letterforms are cut conservatively.