Courier
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What’s your type?

While art directors agonize over which typeface is right for political campaign banners, movie billboards and product packaging, most of us stick to one or two fonts. But we are how we type, according to British psychologist Aric Sigman, author of the 2001 study “The Psychology of Fonts.” So we compiled some of the most familiar typefaces and asked Sigman to decipher the messages you might be sending when you choose between Courier and Helvetica. Courier, shown here, is “the anorak of fonts,” says Sigman, who associates the typeface’s primitive letters with thrift. It finds favor with “older administrative staff who may harbor latent nostalgia for the bygone era of typewriters and carbon paper” and “old-school journalists” of the whiskey, cigarettes and gooseneck lamps ilk.

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Helvetica is print’s sensible pair of shoes. Contemporary-looking yet generic, “it is a safe choice for those who want to blend in and say little,” Sigman says. One fan reportedly is Prince Charles, a traditional figure who sees the choice as appearing to be “in touch with things modern and therefore accessible.”

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Arial is the typographical equivalent of “wearing a pair of standard, off-the-shelf jeans,” Sigman says. Arial is the most popular typeface for personal correspondence. It’s “thoughtless and effortless — either contrived anonymity or a distinct lack of aesthetic concern. In a word? Dispassionate.”

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Times New Roman, a conservative and traditional font, is perceived as “sexually ambiguous, appearing to have the authority desired by men, coupled with the organic, humanistic flair that appeals to women,” Sigman says. His studies have shown that Times New Roman conveys trustworthiness, making it a favorite with “lawyers of the nonambulance-chasing echelon and respectable traditional businesses.”

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Getting a résumé in the wildly polarizing Comic Sans typeface is like getting a handwritten letter in purple pen. Used by those who can’t get enough attention, it is “engineered jollity, controlled and contrived zany.”

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