Looking for a leg up on those papers?

It’s crunch time. Everyone’s suffering with exams and papers. Many are probably wondering if there’s a no-effort way to boost their grade a bit. And for those working on papers, there may be.

An incredibly unscientific study was conducted by a sixth semester college student who had used three fonts on the 52 papers he had completed for school so far. After going back through his old work, he found that his papers in Times New Roman got an average of A-, those in Trebuchet MS got an average of B-, and those in Georgia got an average of A.

His conclusion? Maybe Georgia gets you higher grades.

A commenter in a blogpost on the subject of the effects of font choice had this to say about a study ((s)he failed to provide a website to corroborate):

A study in graphic design was performed, an undergraduate level paper was printed in four different fonts, Times, Georgia, Helvetica, and Arial. The paper was handed 16 or twenty professors (I think the subject was a topic in Art History). The paper in Georgia got the best grade, the one in Arial the worst. It was repeated in ug psychology, (different topic) same results. Once more in English again another topic, and again Georgia commanded an A, while Arial got a B-.

Without a citation on that, of course, we cannot be sure it ever even happened. But if it did, it may give hope to desperate students.

Now again, this is all completely anecdotal evidence. Don’t expect miracles because you change your font. And don’t go crazy with the font changes either. You’re not going to win classy points by printing your essay in Lucida Calligraphy. And please, don’t go back to the 5th grade by printing in Comic Sans MS.

But it’s possible subtle differences in font choice might, at least subconsciously, affect a professor’s disposition toward your paper. Maybe now’s a good time to experiment with mixing it up a little.

Oh, and sorry for spilling the beans on Georgia, to all those of you who have been using it (and benefitting from it) for years.

Comment if you have any anecdotal evidence you’d like to add to the pot!

3 Comments

  1. crusader

    I don’t have any scientific evidence or studies, but I do have a brain and an eye, and those two things tell me that everyone should justify-align their papers instead of left-aligning them.

    automatic points.

  2. Typography nerd

    Actually, the MLA guidelines say explicitly to left-justify and not full-justify. Sans-serifs are horrible for long papers; do not under any circumstance use Calibri. It is the scourge of the earth.

    Anyway, my personal choice of fonts is Gentium, but you really can’t go wrong with something classy like a Garamond or HoeflerText (comes with OSX!), or a classic standard like TNR.

  3. I agree that full justify tends to provide better results (at least for me). My grades improved since I started doing that. Obviously, very unscientific, but the MLA guidelines’ saying to left-justify doesn’t really mean much, either. MLA is just one of the many styles you can use in college.

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