Back in May, Karyna McGlynn posted fantastic submission tips over at the Gulf Coast blog. Lately, I’ve thought about how typefaces can unconsciously influence—and maybe even ruin—the reception of your submission by a magazine’s editors.
As Karyna says, classic serif is the way to go. We wrote about this in 2007, although I’d add that the fonts do vary between genres. Generally, I see 12-point Times New Roman for prose. However, that’s not as effective in poetry; poets lean toward Garamond or Perpetua. Courier New is too bulky. Arial and other sans serif tend to look less professional, less polished. This doesn’t mean I or any other editor will automatically reject a submission on the basis of its font choice (except, perhaps, if the font were Curlz MT), but presentation does matter, in print or online. Often design works unconsciously, subtly; you usually don’t notice it when you navigate a seamless website. You definitely notice it when the navigation is clunky and user-resistant. I don’t notice a font if it looks fine on the page—I notice when it doesn’t.
Don’t agonize too much over your font, but do put some thought into it. You want your work to be the primary focus, not your affection for Comic Sans MS.