Most fonts that we use today were designed to be printed and subsequently read on paper. They have not been optimized for reading on a computer screen. In smaller font sizes, classic typefaces that are both beautiful and easy to read on paper, may be much less readable on a computer screen. With small font sizes, small or thin part of the font may be lost, and the open centres of letter may fill in.
To solve these problems, Microsoft commissioned typeface designer Matthew Carter to design two fonts for the web. Carter was best known for the design of the Bell Centennial typeface, which allowed AT&T to print readable telephone directories in a smaller type size.
Carter designed two fonts, Verdana, a sans-serif font, and Gerogia, a serif font. Verdana is similar to the classic type faces Univers and Helvetica. Georgia is similar to Times and Times New Roman. To make the fonts easier to read on the Web, Verdana and Georgia have a larger “x” height, and greater spacing between characters. Elements of the fonts that would be too thin in small sizes are made thicker. The bold style of the fonts is made so that the centres of letters will not fill in, even at the smallest sizes.
The two typefaces unquestionable achieve their main goal. They are indeed very readable in small sizes. With the proliferation of small screens on the iPad and other tables, and the increased use of netbooks with small screens, these are unquestionably desirable characteristics. But I am afraid that I just don’t like them. Verdana always looks TOO big to me, and at larger type sizes, the spacing between letters seems too large. Georgia is a bit better, but it still looks sort of fat and inelegant.
So what to do? Well, if your application demands maximum readability, these typefaces are worth considering, especially in smaller type sizes. For headlines, I wouldn’t even consider them for a moment. In larger sizes, more traditional fonts are quite readable. Personally, I think the best plan is to select the font that you prefer, and test it. Create your page, and view it on as many different screen sizes and in as many different web browsers as possible. If it renders well, looks good, and is readable, go for it!