Tip O' the Moment

Serif vs. Sans Serif Clients and the designers love sans serif*. And I love it too. I do. It’s what you see on the web, it’s what Tweets show up in, it’s sleek and sophisticated and modern.

But in a direct mail letter, it doesn’t work.

Sans serif is impersonal

Direct mail is supposed to look like (and read like) a personal letter. Nothing says IM-personal quite like blog-friendly sans serif type faces.

Sans serif is hard to read

Particularly for older eyes – the bulk of your direct mail audience – large blocks of sans serif copy are hard to decipher. If you want people to read your fantastic prose, go with a serif font.

Sans serif loses in testing

Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve conducted a serif vs. sans letter test…because the results were so decisive. It wasn't even close. Serif on letters works.

Save the sans serif for headers and fine print, and use a nice, readable Times New Roman or Courier for your letters. And make it 12pt. while you’re at it. Your donors’ eyes will thank you.

And if you’ve done a recent serif vs. sans test, I want to hear about it! Especially if it proves me wrong!

*Serif fonts have small finishing strokes on the ends of the letters (Times, Courier and Century are common serif fonts). Sans serif fonts lack flourishes (Futura, Arial and Verdana are common sans serif fonts).