What is a good font for a thesis?
Why does choosing a good font for your thesis matter? Well, there are two important reasons:
- the font makes a difference to the readability of your thesis online
- and in print form and the perceived professionalism of your work
Difference between on screen versus printed text
Another thing to ask yourself is: will my thesis be printed and read as a book? Reading on a screen and reading printed text are two different things. So, a font that may look great on the screen will be harder to read when on the printed page.
Our general recommendation is use always use a serif font for the body (not the headings, see below) of your academic work.
Most people agree that dense chunks of printed text are easier to read if the font is serif, since they’re more readable for long passages and have sharper contrast in their italics.
Serif and sans serif: what’s the difference?
Serifs are the tiny strokes at the end of a letter’s main strokes. Serif fonts have these extra strokes; sans serif fonts do not.
What are some common serif fonts?
- Freight Text.
- Tiempos Text.
Why Times New Roman is not always the best choice
The default recommended by many universities worldwide is Times New Roman.
Times New Roman 12 point is the defacto standard font in MLA guidelines and the U.S. Federal Government. Originally, Times New Roman was designed for a newspaper to fit a lot of text into little space; this means it is really narrow. It is good when your page count is too high to reduce the number of pages but otherwise may be hard to read.
Some fonts to try for your thesis
Note that these are all default with Word and are serif
• Century Schoolbook
• Minion Pro
• Lucida Bright
• Bembo (a true classic)
• if you find Baskerville too small, try Georgia (free from MS)
• Zapf Elliptical, a moderate-serif font as I’d call it, quite condensed that marries extremely well to Palatino
Different typeface for headings: serif body text and sans serif headings
Why should you consider using a different typeface for your headings? Well, it will make the headings more prominent. Why does heading prominence matter? Think how it enhances overall readability because your eye scanning the pages can quickly take in the hierarchy of ideas with headings that stand out.
A good rule of thumb: The easiest way to get a good contrast with your serif body text is to have sans serif headings. However, don’t make your document messy by having more than two typefaces in your thesis.
If you yearn for variety and are considering a third typeface – our advice would be DON’T DO IT – instead use point sizes, bold and italics for variety.
Body text and heading combinations to try
- Palatino for text body/ Zapf Elliptical for footnotes, captions and other places where one might want to use a sans-serif font.
- Novarese Bold (Italic) or Lucida Sans Bold (Italic) for titles.
Are you submitting electronically?
When you submit a hard copy or a PDF, the person who reads it will see the text in whatever typeface you use. Conversely, most electronic submission formats, can only use the fonts available on the reader’s computer. So if you submit the paper electronically, be sure to use a font your instructor has.
We hope that this article has given you some guidance about choosing a good font for your thesis.
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