Serif typefaces that work well in dark mode

Hello. In the last few years, dark mode has become more widespread.
There's also support in OS's (at least mac) to switch between light and dark mode depending on the hour the day.
The CSS property `prefers-color-scheme` allows dynamic switching, and many websites leverage this.

I've noticed that many serif fonts look poorly in dark mode.
It's well known that in light-emitting screens, white-on-black appears bolder. But I don't mean just that.
For example, the Firefox "reader view" allows a choice between Georgia and Helvetica. In dark mode, to my eyes, Georgia doesn't look good. The tracking is too tight, and the serifs become too prominent and distracting (to my untrained eyes).

Are there well known categories of serif typefaces that could work well for dark mode?
Seeing how well sans-serifs transition, I would imagine low-contrast is one way to go.
Staying with Matthew Carter: while Georgia doesn't work well, Charter does.

But then, a low-contrast serif that I had thought would do well in dark mode is DJR's Turnip, but in my opinion, the thin-thick modulation becomes more shimmery and distracting in dark mode.

Aside from slab-serifs, are there categories of serifs that ought to do well in dark mode?
Any examples or recommendations?

Personally I really like switching my display to dark mode after 6pm, helps me wind down; I wish more websites complied.



  • jaimes
    jaimes Posts: 11
    oh no, my first post and I already mis-categorized it.  :/
    Sorry. I did read the "READ THIS FIRST".
    Where should this be moved?
  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,158
    edited February 6
    “Dark mode” is really just “reversed” in the old/standard terminology—although I suspect that has become obsolete and now “reverse” is understood to mean flipped/backwards.

    Amply spaced and low contrast seems appropriate.

    I can suggest a couple of mine, “book” faces:
    Bellefair is free, Richler expensive.

    Thanks for posting—it’s made me realize that I should provide some online specimens in reverse. I mean dark mode!
  • Tofu Type Foundry
    Sorry it's not a serif, but Dalton Maag's DarkMode seems relevant to this topic. It's the only font I've come across with a dedicated axis for dark–light mode. Perhaps they'll release a serif companion in the future like they did Mono?
  • jaimes
    jaimes Posts: 11
    Thanks! @Nick Shinn I think it's a good idea to have specimens in reverse.
    I've seen some foundries do that: Letters from Sweden and Klim come to mind.
    Richler is nice! And expensive indeed.

    I have the impression that the venetians stand up particularly well.
    For example, of the types that come with macos, Iowan Old Style does great.