Verdana Font: In-depth Font Review


Another of Matthew Carter’s creations Verdana was developed for the screen rather than for print. It was Microsoft’s Program Manager of Typography, Virginia Howlett, who wanted a scalable font that was specifically designed for readability at varying text sizes and was for the release of Windows 95. Enter award winning Matthew Carter and the professional hinting skills of Tom Rickner. Just as he did previously for Georgia and Tahoma he completed the process backwards. It has come standard in all Windows programmes since its initial release.

Origins of the Verdana typeface

The name Verdana came after Matthew Carter brought up the tradition of naming fonts after designer’s daughters. Originally Virginia Howlett had been researching names based on the word verde, which is Spanish for green, to symbolise the Emerald City of Seattle and the Evergreen State of Washington. So from verde she combined the name of her own daughter Ana and came up with Verdana. Side note: in case you weren’t aware Microsoft headquarters are based in Seattle.

Verdana is a clear and legible font that was created for viewing on computer screens, the reason it is so clear and legible is because its characters are wide and fairly bold. It maintains its look at small font sizes, too, which can lead to substitute fonts being illegible on systems that don’t have Verdana installed. Tahoma, Verdana and Georgia are all quite interchangeable, while still maintaining their own identities.

Do not confuse Verdana font with Frutiger

It’s another of the humanist sans serif typefaces and once again has similarities to Frutiger. There are plenty of distinctive visually identifiable characteristics with Verdana, though. The lower case i features a square dot, the a is double storied and the lowercase j has a left protruding serif on the top of it. It’s uppercase distinctive characteristics include the centred tail under the capital Q, and the same left protruding serif at the top of the lowercase j also features on the upper case J, the uppercase I has serifs on the top and the bottom as well. This means that the similar characters will remain easily distinguishable from each other. The 1Ii test is passed with flying colours by Verdana meaning that the ease of readability is clear.

Study shows that Verdana is among the most legible of fonts

Wichita State University’s Software Usability and Research Laboratory completed a study which showed that Verdana was the best choice of font overall as it is perceived to be among the most legible of fonts. Though, like Georgia, Microsoft’s font manager claimed it never felt comfortable as an eBook font, despite that it was one of the standard book reading fonts on the iPad before being updated in 2011.

Some of the highlights of Verdana’s life so far include the nomination for the Best of British Design Award on BBC 2’s The Culture Show in 2006. It has also been the typeface of Ikea catalogues since 2009.

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