Avoid Roboto for body copy

Published June 25, 2021

I love the Roboto font. It’s clean and pret­ty. But I noticed some­thing: There are some sites that sim­ply feel less seri­ous or less trust­wor­thy when I read them, even when I know it’s 100% legit. Take this sto­ry from US News as an exam­ple. Real news, real site. And yet my sub­con­scious tells me it’s second-rate.

Why? I start­ed look­ing at the sites that made me feel that way, and every one of them used Roboto as its body-text font.

It’s not because it’s a sans-serif type; sites using Arial, Helvetica, and oth­er sans-serif type­faces don’t give me that reac­tion. I wish I knew more about fonts to know what it was — maybe the round­ness of the char­ac­ter tips? I’m sure there’s an explanation.

Here’s the same sto­ry in Roboto:

And a gener­ic serif font:


I have no idea if you see what I see, but for what­ev­er rea­son, the Roboto text looks more … child­ish? Untrustworthy? I know it’s a pop­u­lar font these days, and there’s no ques­tion that it’s clear and read­able. But maybe there needs to be more to a font than readability.

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