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Times for print, Georgia for screen

Despite its appearance on some recent websites, Times New Roman is an ineffective choice for body copy. Use Georgia instead.

The New Yorker has undergone a recent redesign. There are plenty of modern web design cues present (a grid-based layout and some thoughtful typography for two), but it soon becomes clear that the designers have steered clear of one of the tenets of modern web typography: Use Georgia as your serif font.

This is a mistake.

A wordy site needs type that is clear to read. Times at anything below 18 pixels produces a cramped, uncomfortable experience for the reader. Screens are not print. This is why Georgia was invented; it’s a thicker Times with more distinct serifs, easy-to-read on a monitor.

One can only guess at the designers’ motives for employing Times. Perhaps it’s an attempt to evoke the traditions of The New Yorker’s print version, or a rebellion against the omnipresence of Georgia. Whatever the reason, it’s wrong. Readability always comes before design statements on the web.

If you’re not convinced, look at the site using my style, or compare these screenshots:


Screenshot of The New Yorker

The New Yorker uses a scratchy, indistinct Times for body copy


Screenshot after my changes have been applied

Change the font to Georgia and - voila! - readable copy

And don’t get me started on the paragraphs.

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Is this still applicable or was this a discrepancy noticeable on lower DPI monitors? I don’t remember Times New Roman ever looking that bad.


I suspect this would have been more of a problem back when I wrote this in 2008(!) when screens generally had lot lower DPIs.

Having said that, you still see Georgia used a lot, Times New Roman hardly at all. The design of Georgia makes it more readable – thicker strokes, bigger x height and its general roundness make it more legible on any screen. It was specifically designed for screens, whereas Times is a print typeface.


The tradition around these parts is to test whatever comments system we’ve rigged up by replying to this post.