Audience Perceptions of Fonts in Projected PowerPoint Text Slides

Jo Mackiewicz, Iowa State University

This article is published as Mackiewicz, J., Audience Perceptions of Fonts in Projected PowerPoint Text Slides. Technical Communication 2007, 54(3):295–307. Posted with permission.

Abstract

This study examined perceptions of 10 common fonts displayed in projected PowerPoint text slides. It investigated 37 participants’ ratings of the fonts—five serif and five sans serif—on four variables: comfortable-to-read, professional, interesting, and attractive. A significant difference was found between participants’ ratings of serif and sans serif fonts on the professional variable, but not on the other three variables. Significant differences in ratings were found among sans serif fonts on the professional and attractive variables and among the serif fonts on the professional and comfortable-to-read variables. In addition, as hypothesized, a strong correlation was found between the comfortable-to-read and the professional variables. Another strong correlation was found between the interesting and the attractive variables. The hypothesis that a negative correlation would obtain between the comfortable-to-read and the interesting variables was not borne out by the data.

Technical communicators who want a font that is comfortable-to-read, professional, interesting, and attractive might choose Gill Sans, Souvenir, or fonts that share similar anatomical characteristics.