Marketers and businesses alike know that white papers help generate leads. What they might not realize, however, is the importance of selecting the right font for their white paper. Or how the best white paper fonts can help them convince their potential customers.
Research has found that while some fonts generate agreement among their readers, others have the opposite effect. That means content which the audience largely believes when written in one font leads to disagreements when written in another.
In other words, the best fonts for a white paper don’t only increase its readability. Nor do they just help the document’s aesthetics. The best font for a white paper also convinces the audience that the information in the white paper is valuable and informative.
White paper fonts are like referees in sports: if they do their job well (and everyone follows the rules), no one will notice their presence. The reader will feel it was in their best interest to give up their email address in return for the valuable information the white paper contains.
The marketer would convince themselves that it’s what they presented in the white paper – not how they presented it – that pushes conversions. However, as research has shown, the font used in the white paper could also deserve credit (or blame) for its conversion rate.
Font choice plays a role in determining how the message is conveyed. It also has a massive impact on the overall appearance and tone of the white paper’s text. All of which, in turn, influences the reader’s behavior as they contemplate whether the information is believable. That’s why white paper designers like us here at Magnnetic must put some thought into identifying the best font for a white paper.
There are two flavors of white paper fonts: serif and sans serif. Here are the best options for each flavor:
Serif fonts have a tiny line at the end of the horizontal and vertical strokes of letters (see image above).
Conventional wisdom suggests the added strokes make serif fonts slightly easier to read by making each character more distinctive, helping the eye recognize them quickly. However, readability studies have found that, all things being equal, there’s no real difference in performance for serif fonts.
So, it’s not an issue of serif or not, but a question of which serif you use. Georgia, Merriweather, and Faustina in particular have proven effective and highly-readable in both web and online formats.
Sans-serif fonts do not have small lines (or serifs) at the ends of characters (see image above). Both the horizontal and vertical ends of their strokes lack any details or flourishes. This gives them a much ‘cleaner’ look than serif fonts, which have details dangling off of the edges of their characters.
Sans-serif fonts used to be king when it came to screens due to resolutions lower than what could be achieved in print. But with improving pixel densities in computers and phones, it’s no longer a requirement to use sans serif for online content.
And some sans serifs have been optimized to read well in print as well as online, making them effective for a document like a white paper that could be used in either medium. The three most popular of these fonts are Helvetica, Verdana, and Open Sans.
These days there’s no real benefit to choosing serif or sans serif, and both have some solid font options. Choosing between them is a more a matter of personal taste and aesthetics than anything else.
You could even use both. Using a sans-serif font for headlines and a serif font for paragraphs is actually a common practice. The resulting contrast in the typeface is not only visually appealing to your reader, it also helps them easily recognize the different elements of your white paper architecture.
Whatever your decision, you’re generally safe if you stick to the six fonts mentioned in this article.
For more info on crafting an effective white paper, check out our complete guide to creating a white paper.
What is the right white paper font size?
Since a significant amount of your audience may be mobile users, the font size of your white paper’s body content needs to be 16 pixels. Anything larger could make reading more difficult. Anything smaller might compromise the readability.
What should be the size of a white paper?
Given that short-form content converts more than long-form content, we suggest that you keep your white paper on the shorter side. In fact, it’s one of the major white paper best practices we recommend. Keeping it between 3-8 pages will allow the reader to consume it in one sitting, increasing the likelihood of finishing it and getting maximum value.