Here is a request for information. All responses gratefully received. You may comment here or email me directly.
I have talked before about the issue of fonts in mathematical typography. My employer is trying to force on everyone the use of 11-point Arial in all documents, including lecture notes, exam papers, etc. I happen to think that this is not appropriate for mathematics.
Briefly, what do you make of XxY? Unintelligible, in my view. Even the better alternative X × Y is not ideal in sans serif. A serif font clearly distinguishes the letter X from the multiplication sign. Many other examples will probably occur to you.
(And in case you think that anyone who cares about the look of their written material would never write XxY, I have just been at a conference where a depressing number of mathematicians and computer scientists did things just as bad!)
To answer another possible objection: You might say, why not set the text in sans serif and the mathematical formulae in serif? Several problems. First, we are human, and often a single character like X is just written in text. Second, sometimes we have sans serif characters in formulae. And third, it just looks ugly: look at almost any mathematical blog for examples. We do not yet have a good way to combine text and mathematics in a HTML document.
The argument is that dyslexic readers are confused by serifs; that is what drives the policy. But I see a slippery slope here. Soon it will be claimed that they are confused by twiddly Greek letters like ζ and ξ, and we will be forbidden to use them in our lecture notes.
So here are my two questions.
- The fact that serif fonts confuse dyslexics is often quoted, but although I have asked repeatedly, nobody can point me to the research which demonstrates this. Can anybody help?
- It is widely believed and stated that research shows that serif fonts are actually more comprehensible for body text such as ten or a hundred pages of lecture notes. Can anybody point me to research on this?
Thanks in advance for any help.