Watch Where You Use That Wingding - InformationWeek

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Watch Where You Use That Wingding

Psychologist studies E-mail users' use of fonts.

Better think twice before you hit the send button on your next E-mail. Your choice of font can reveal aspects of your personality you might prefer to keep to yourself, according to a new study.

British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported that the study was commissioned by printer vendor Lexmark International Inc., which hired psychologist Aric Sigman to analyze E-mail users' choice of fonts. Sigman found that font choice conveys its own message, serving as a form of "social coding" that can help classify users.

For instance, people who use typewriter-style Courier fonts are stuck in the past, according to Sigman, while Helvetica fans are in touch with contemporary issues. Devotees of Times New Roman and Palatino are able to compromise between old and new, and they're trustworthy to boot. Sans serif fonts such as Arial are big with sensible folks, and young, fashion-obsessed girls use curvy fonts such as Georgia. And what about more casual typefaces? Well, Sigman says Comic Sans users are hungry for attention, and people who use handwriting fonts tend to be overly familiar.

But there are those who say people can't be so easily typecast. "There probably is less to that than if you said a choice of a person's dessert reveals their personality," says prominent graphic artist Milton Glaser. He says that fonts can be used to express an emotion, but that so many other factors go into the choice as to make categorizations such as Sigman's useless. "The human mind is a little more complex than that."

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