1.5 Appearance – what will your document look like?


Font refers to the basic shape of the letters (characters) used to produce documents.

There are 3 main groups of font

  • Serif. A short line added to the tops and bottoms of traditional typefaces. Examples: Times New Roman / Cambria
  • Non-Serif (traditionally “sans-serif”). A typeface without strokes at the tops and bottoms of letters. Examples: Arial / Verdana / Calibri
  • Decorative and Simulated Handwriting Example: Algerian /Lucida Handwriting

SAIF recommends:

  • using a Non-Serif Font in all information-giving documents,
  • using the same font throughout a document.


  • Non-serif fonts tend to give a less cluttered look to the page.
  • Some people with low vision and dyslexia find serifs distracting. For example, the serifs might jump out at them while the letters and words become blurred.
  • It can be difficult to re-adjust focus if very different fonts are used.


All fonts can be printed in a range of sizes, called Points. It is common to vary sizes in a document, using larger point sizes to make Headings stand out.

Point size varies to some extent depending on the font.


Arial Point 14 = Verdana Point 13 = Calibri Point 15

SAIF recommends

  • using a Point Size equivalent to Arial Point 14,
  • if this is impractical the minimum point size should be equivalent to Arial Point 12.

Why? More people will be able to read your document unaided even if they have low vision and would prefer a larger point size. It will cut down on requests for large print.