Dixie's Opinion about Fonts

Fonts for Business Letters

Is it so important to know what fonts to use for writing business letters? Maybe not vitally important, Dixie says but if you want your business letter to look good you should at least be aware of the basics in using fonts.

Up until very recently it has been widely known that the accepted standard in using fonts for business letters is Times New Roman, size 12 (11 if that can help your long letter be squeezed into one page. As a side note, be careful not to overdo the squeezing: it's better to have a 2-paged letter than a 1-pager whose words crawl over each other.)

And then Microsoft Word made Calibri its default font. So looks like Microsoft has decided single-handedly to shatter the foundation of the sacred business standard. And it will most probably succeed in this endeavor. After all, who wants to bother changing the defaults? Not everybody, that's for sure.

Dixie's advice used to be, when in doubt use the standard. Now there's a question which standard to use... You know what, in Dixie's expert opinion it does not matter much. Her best advice in this situation is, just don't use Wingdings. If you are not too discouraged by what has been said, Dixie urges you to read further.

More about Fonts

Fonts and Typefaces

Both fonts and typefaces are usually defined as a design for a set of characters. Dixie understands why it is so easy to mix them up as most of us humans do. If you consider this distinction important, then remember that typeface represents one aspect of a font, and a font is the combination of typeface and other qualities, such as size, weight, italics, spacing, etc.

On the other hand, these two words are so close in meaning that as Dixie says we can easily put up with not knowing that Times Roman (or Calibri, or even Wingdings) is a typeface, and not font.

Serif versus Sans-Serif

Strictly speaking, serif and sans-serif are two general categories of typefaces. But again, it's ok if you want to call them fonts.

So, what is a serif? It is a small line added as embellishment to the basic form of a character. Serif typefaces/fonts, of which Times Roman is the most common, are very effective when utilized in sequences of words longer than one line. Those little extensions of letters that hook one character into the next one help the eye in making words. Serif typefaces also resemble the cursive characters all of us learned in primary school.

Anyone could have guessed by now that sans-serif typefaces/fonts do not have those lines at the end of the characters. While serif fonts have an old-fashioned, classical, conservative and formal look, sans-serif fonts look more modern and informal. It was considered that they are best used in titles of any kinds and not in the body text, at least not in the body of the business letter.

"Now you see why Times New Roman is a standard for writing business letters, right?" asks Dixie. Wrong! Because Calibri is an example of a sans-serif. Again, let's blame Microsoft for turning the standards upside down.

Now everybody is thoroughly confused. But you already know that Dixie has always encouraged breaking rules: if you have a certain purpose in mind, do not be afraid to break a rule to attain your purpose. Just try not to overdo when you are writing a business letter! You can overdo anything else you wish of course.

Related Topics

Paper for Business Letters Business Envelopes Folding a Business Letter

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Of Interest

Dixie invites you to check out the following press release on use of fonts in business correspondence in the UK. Hm... Looks like the British consider font selection to be very important.