Next time you're drafting office memos or customising your desktop, keep this in mind: Researchers have found that instructions written in plain, straight-forward fonts are more likely to be completed—and better, too.
University of Michigan researchers gave two sets of subjects two different tasks, following an exercise regiment, and assembling a standard sushi roll. Half were given their instructions and task lists in the straight-up Arial font, while the others received their lists in brush-style, script-like typeface. Not only did the teams with Arial perform better in each task, they also had a more upbeat attitude about doing so:
Those who had read the exercise instructions in an unadorned, accessible typeface were much more open to the prospect of exercising: they believed that the regimen would take less time and that it would feel more fluid and easy. Most important, they were more willing to make exercise part of their day.
Few Lifehacker readers probably give themselves to-do lists or send important emails out in Comic Sans (here's your dire warning, if so), but it's worth noting the seemingly real impact of simple text on your productivity. If the text itself is challenging, the chances you'll be geared up to tackle the tasks it describes seem to drop off.