Small Tip: Using Typefaces to Write More Persuasively

  • October 29, 2019
  • Shawn Erker

It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.

When drafting documents, the voluminous typeface options at our disposal may sometimes leave us overwhelmed and relying on the safety of default options, such as Calibri in the case of Microsoft’s Office Suite, or Arial for Google’s suite of cloud-based applications. But venturing beyond the confines of the defaults can not only help your documents appear less rote, but can also increase the effectiveness of the underlying text.

A 2013 experiment conducted by the New York Times found that the choice of typeface has a measurable impact on the persuasiveness of the underlying text. The experimented tested six fonts—including Helvetica, Georgia, Baskerville, and Comic Sans—and asked readers to rate the believability of a series of statements, each written in a different typeface. Unsurprisingly, the much-maligned Comic Sans was found to be the least persuasive. But it was the text written in Baskerville that was most persuasive to readers. A similar experiment conducted in 2016 also found Baskerville to be the most “trustworthy” typeface.