I’ve long criticized sans-serif fonts in legal writing, and it turns out I’m right — at least according to a study conducted by filmmaker and NYT blogger Errol Morris. Helvetica (similar to Arial) and Comic Sans were the least believable fonts, while the serif fonts Baskerville and Computer Modern were significantly more persuasive. Says Cornell professor David Dunning,

Baskerville seems to be the king of fonts. What I did is I pushed and pulled at the data and threw nasty criteria at it. But it is clear in the data that Baskerville is different from the other fonts in terms of the response it is soliciting. Now, it may seem small but it is impressive.

So, if you want to be persuasive, use Baskerville — or at least a nice serif font — in your legal writing. [via Daring Fireball]

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