Is Your Font Making You Seem More or Less Trustworthy?

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Typeface, design layout, and legibility influence are perceived trustworthiness on the web. You can follow these tips to build credibility.

Have you ever read through an email written in a very small font and instantly felt overwhelmed? What about when the email is in ALL CAPS? The truth is, most of us communicate through a computer screen or mobile device on a daily basis.

It can be hard to understand how someone portrays himself or herself without an assortment of emoji characters. Let’s dive into the importance of font selection in defining the way you want your message interpreted.

How do the following fonts make you feel?

1. Today is a sunny day.
2. Today is a sunny day.

Good? Bad? Unsure?

Does either of the fonts influence your perception on whether today is, in fact, a sunny day? If so, know that you aren’t alone.

The font that you choose when sending emails can actually have an impact on how you, and what you have written, are perceived. For example, in a New York Times piece, Errol Morris, filmmaker and writer, discovered that when people read a statement written in "stiff" and formal fonts like Baskerville, they were more likely to agree with it than when the same text was written in fonts like Helvetica or Comic Sans.

Types of Fonts

In email marketing, you are speaking to a variety of audiences. How do you know which fonts will be seen as more trustworthy, and which fonts should be avoided? Consider the following:

Related Article: Cream of the Inbox: Small Businesses Doing Email Marketing Right

How You Read

When we read, our eyes follow a pattern called a Scan Path. A Scan path is like a journey for your eyes made up of saccades (jumps) and fixations (pauses).

As you read, your eyes bounce along each line in small jumps. With each jump, everything is semi-unclear and ends in a small pause. This pause allows your brain to take a snapshot of the letters. In a matter of seconds your brain arranges the letters into words, words into sentences, and then formulates meaning.

So, why does this matter when choosing a font? Because understanding how you read is important when deciding how your words should look in an email. You can directly impact how someone reads your content with the proper layout and font.

You only have a few minutes to make an impact with each email you send, so you must make each word count.

Understand the Culture of the Font

When choosing a font for your email, keep in mind that fonts have a personality.

As mentioned above, within Errol Morris’s typeface experiment most felt that the font style Bakersville was trustworthy. Morris’s reasoning is that there was some sort of “religious pull” or connection between the reader and the font. In other words, every font has a culture concerning it.

For example, take the font, Courier. Courier fonts resemble old memos written with a typewriter; therefore, when most see content written in Courier, they think of the old days when people used typewriters.

Related Article: Business.com Guide to Web Design

Legibility

According to type designer Jessica Hische, it is important to first select the font that will be most prevalent in your project, or in our case, your email. This will most likely be the font of your body content.

Bold Fonts

Then, you can base all other fonts, like your headings and subheadings, around this. You do not want to use a decorative font as your body typeface because they typically have low legibility.

Using a decorative font will slow down your reader and may even cause your reader to feel frustrated and stop reading. Use decorative fonts for logos or single worded phrases to add contrast. Rule of thumb for body content: go with a Serif font or Sans-serif font.

Equivalent Spacing

As important as it is for your font to be legible, you want to ensure that your content is evenly spaced.

To reference what we discussed earlier about how a person reads; a well-designed, evenly spaced email will allow your reader to quickly and seamlessly read your content. An email written in 14pt font with a line spacing of 1.5 should prove sufficient for a “relaxed read.” Research states that a well-designed reading environment makes the reader feel good and inspired.

Typeface, design layout, and legibility influence our perceived trustworthiness on the web. Combine that with valuable content and you will resonate with your readers.

What type of font do you use in your email marketing? How do you think it’s perceived?

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