The Perception of Qualities in Typeface


  • Andrea Piovesan
  • Michele Sinico
  • Luciano Perondi


Typefaces, Perception, Communication, Semantic qualitites, Affective review


The selection of an appropriate typeface is fundamental in numerous contexts. For example, a typeface that communicates the correct qualities increases the probability of buying a product, perceiving a brand as trustworthy, increasing the time spent exploring a website, and communicating a message effectively (Huang & Liu, 2020; Johnson-Sheehan, 2014; Velasco, 2019). However, professionals report struggling to find the most appropriate typeface for their project and, as a result, spending a considerable amount of time on the search (Wu et al., 2019). This is in part due to the lack of information regarding which qualities each typeface communicates (Wu et al., 2019). In fact, the data that exist on the subject are scattered across several research articles. Consequently, professionals have few tools to help them choose the appropriate typeface based on scientific data, and instead must often rely on personal experience (O’Donovan et al., 2014). The current review aims to provide professionals with scientific support for choosing an appropriate typeface by collecting these scattered data in a single place. We describe the findings of 34 studies that asked participants to rate the perception of 229 qualities in 635 typefaces, and we created a unified dataset where data are easily comparable across multiple studies. We believe this work will make the messages created by professionals in the design, marketing and communication industries more effective

Author Biographies

Andrea Piovesan

Andrea Piovesan is a Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK. His research investigates human perception including vision, pain, time perception and the perception of typefaces. His papers have been published in journals such as Perception (2018), Emotion (2019) and Psychophysiology (2021). Address: Department of Psychology, Edge Hill University, St Helens Road, Ormskirk, UK, L39 4QP [email: piovesaa@edgehill.]

Michele Sinico

Michele Sinico is professor of Human Factors at the Master’s degree in Product and Visual Communication Design in the Department of Architecture and Arts at the IUAV University of Venice, Italy. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Padua. He taught Psychology of Communication at the University of Bologna and General Psychology at the University Ca’ Foscari of Venice. He conducts research in design, ergonomics, psychology of perception, product experience, and expressive design. He is member of the Advisory Board of the international journal Gestalt Theory. Address: Dipartimento di Culture del Progetto, Iuav University of Venice, Santa Croce, 191, 30135, Venice VE, Italy [email:]

Luciano Perondi

Luciano Perondi is associate professor at the IUAV University of Venice, Italy. His research investigates writing and reading process, the history of writing and its nonlinear use (sinsemia). Luciano Perondi has been involved professionally in typeface and information design since 1998. Since 2013 to 2016 he has been the director of Isia of Urbino. Address: Fondamenta de le Terese, 2206, 30123, Venice VE, Italy [email:]





Journal Article