Different fonts evoke different emotions, and some fonts are more readable than others. There are lots of decisions to be made when choosing fonts for your eLearning projects. Here are a few of my thoughts, to help you make better font choices.
Serif vs. Sans Serif
Serifs fonts contain little "tails" on some of the letters, such as those found in Times New Roman. The word "sans" is French for "without," so a "sans serif" font is a font without tails.
Here are some common serif and sans serif fonts.
Sans serif fonts are commonly thought more readable than serif fonts, particularly when viewed online.
I have, on occasion, used serif fonts in my eLearning courses (if the client insists, I use the font they want and try to push back if the font makes things unreadable).
Here's an example of using a serif font for the headline and a sans serif font for the text below. I like this look very much! And proper hierarchy is used here as well (the headline is larger than the subheads... a logical progression).
Use Display Fonts Sparingly
Display fonts are unique fonts meant to be used in small doses. Mostly, they are less readable than regular fonts. And they are meant to convey a message, an emotion - more than what Times New Roman can say (no offense to Times Roman).
The image below shows a few examples of display fonts. These are certainly not meant for large amounts of text. Rather, they pack a punch for grabbing attention or evoking an emotion, so use them sparingly.
In the image below, notice the first two examples are using a display font that is inappropriate for the content. A law office needs a more conservative font than a surfboard manufacturer, right? Because the client requires a more conservative look to their branding, the third example would be the correct choice.
Easy on the Mixture
Don't overmix fonts. Three is the old-school limit, but I still think it's relevant.
Here is an example of bad typography. First, there are too many fonts in one place. In addition, the display font is used inappropriately.
The text is an important piece of the puzzle in an eLearning course. It should always be readable, high contrast, and large enough that mobile users will not have trouble deciphering it. Test your courses on a variety of platforms to ensure the text is readable. If the text in your courses is not readable, it won't matter what font you used.