Does Typography Matter in Medicine?

Who Cares about Typography?

This is one thing that when I tell people I have an interest they will gape at me about. "You like the way words look?" And that's the thing! I am no expert on the subject. Language is one thing. You can read the inflection in a persons voice, see the twinge of a facial tic that indicates disapproval at a comment. But the written word needs some way of conveying emotion. A great point about this is the article by Max Brody on "Why Typography Matters," which I think is a must read. Even his theory that if we bold things our minds slow down to take it into account, is rather interesting.

Think about it, does the way items are printed affect your interpretation? What if a Stop Sign was printed in Comic Sans, would you take it as seriously? Even that word, sans and sans-serif are interesting and tend to denote the formality. This site sticks to sans-serif because I want to keep it formal but lighthearted. Ever notice the high brand store outlets tend to have really fancy letters that are serif? Tiffany and Co. for instance goes with the serif font of Garamond.

...And how does this apply to Medicine?

Well, as health professionals we spend alot of time reading and writing. The growing role of EHR and patient portals dictate that some font be chosen to use. I wonder if its a straightforward affair or if people actually spent time deciding what font is so Medical

Our medical journals are a good example of holding onto some traditional fonts. Look at the NEJM, AJHP, and you will find they still use a serif font in their journals, but the websites have migrated towards a sans look.

One thing that always strikes me is the font choice between popular medical blogs. One big contrast is 33Charts and KevinMD. Every time I look at 33Chart I feel I should take it more serious due to the style, while KevinMD articles feel much more like a blog feel. One factor that may play into this is the overwhelming use Helvetica and Raleway brought to use by Google and Apple. With their devices all over and most people accessing articles through google searches, it may not come as any surprise we have embraced those styles moreso. 

Alright, done musing about something so odd, but hey, its interesting when you think about it.

Timothy AungstComment