Serif font is applied inconsistently for titles

Here on Math.SE, I see that we use serif fonts for titles, as evidenced by the main page of questions. Nonspecific screenshot:

But titles appear in other places; in at least two of those, they are rendered with sans-serif fonts. Namely, in the list of Linked/Related Questions, and in the Review Queues:

Screenshots all taken on a Mac. I assume this is something that was overlooked. Can we make this consistent?

Important related question but over 10 years ago: New design: On the use of sans and serif faces I guess it wasn't consistent before, but the new font choice is making it very obvious.

• Is this actually new? I think it is like this since redesign of the site. – quid May 11 at 8:34
• I guess it isn't new, given the 10 year old linked post. Should I make it a [feature-request] then...? – Calvin Khor May 11 at 8:35
• The reference to the new font in the title made me assume that you suggest it is new (though your last sentence clarifies it), strictly the link is about something else though, but indeed it shows that fonts were always applied inconsistently. In any case I doubt they will use the serif font more widely. If we want consistency we could likely get the standard font everywhere. – quid May 11 at 8:38
• Sorry, didn't expect that reading of the title. Have edited it and changed to [feature-request] – Calvin Khor May 11 at 8:40
• "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." (Ralph Waldo Emerson). What is the case in favor of consistency here? – Gerry Myerson May 11 at 8:50
• Hm...I certainly felt it was self-evident. If it was consistent, would anyone be asking for it to be made distinct? – Calvin Khor May 11 at 8:58
• I find that it is also sans-serif in my profile/activity page. I am not a font designer so I can make no strong claims. but in the screenshots above, I find the transition from Georgia to Mathjax easier on my eyes than from the Apple system font to Mathjax. Consistency should help with memory? Sounds reasonable to me... I want to say that the smaller lists of titles always looked wrong to me and the new font switch only made it obvious why. Perhaps the point against consistency is that it would take too much effort, given that it is now inconsistent? – Calvin Khor May 11 at 10:31
• Your mathjax fonts look very different (times Roman italics has been used it appears). Is it due to the change which happened recently or was it like that always? – Paramanand Singh May 11 at 13:12
• @ParamanandSingh I believe it is because I am using the (default) HTML-CSS renderer on a Mac/iOS device. Semi-recently, these devices come shipped with the "STIX fonts", and Mathjax 2's HTML-CSS uses this font if it is installed. This actually makes Mathjax do slightly different things, see previous post. It will look more like what you see (I think) if I make it use e.g. Common HTML. – Calvin Khor May 11 at 13:36
• I use the site on mobile device (android) which definitely does not have Stix fonts so even with html css it uses the default $\mathrm\TeX$ font called Computer Modern. – Paramanand Singh May 11 at 13:39
• "Can we make this consistent?" to which one? sans serif or serif? or to another one? You know, as GEdgar points out, some sites have very different fonts. See for example Christianity.SE – Verónica Rmz. May 11 at 16:16
• I was originally hoping to make them serif. I see now it is more complicated than I thought @VerónicaRmz. – Calvin Khor May 12 at 1:14
• ah, then +1 : ) I also would like the serif or sheriff. If not, then as it is it's fine, to have at least a piece of the serif fonts... – Verónica Rmz. May 12 at 15:15
• I've just notice, on Cross Validate they have sans-serif consistently. – Verónica Rmz. May 17 at 16:50

I agree that the current inconsistent situation is not ideal, but at the same time I do not see what exactly is proposed.

Yes, question-titles are displayed inconsistently, but what should we do exactly?

It seems to me the suggestion is to switch the display of titles to the serif font used for posts. But then, for example on the activity page, it would be inconsistent with all the other elements of the site. I am pretty sure SE will not change everything for our site.

For context, as GEdgar points out most sites use also a sans-serif font for titles, and indeed consistently.

Some venerable sites, like ours, had a custom design with a different font, this was preserved to some extent when the design of the sites was redone and harmonized a few years ago (that's another "new design" then the one linked in the title). However, shared elements follow the standard SE design. It is likely also worth pointing out that in the mobile version of the site the font for posts is sans-serif too.

Thus, arguably what creates the inconsistency is the fact that posts (and some related elements) are in a custom font. If the goal is consistency I think that we could get rid of it by asking to switch to the standard sans-serif font for posts. But some might not want to lose the custom font.

The point of harmony with MathJax was invoked. To the best of my knowledge it would be possible to get the same (or at last a similar) sans-serif font for MathJax, too. Yet then, I dimly recall that on MO, where posts are in sans-serif since the beginning of time if I recall correctly, and in any case they are now, the fact that the font of MathJax is a different one had been considered as good by some (for reasons of having a visual marker for parts that are formulas).

Thus, as is, the proposal seems hard to realize. If you want to follow up on this I suggest that you start a "discussion" on the subject of fonts on the site. Maybe not instantly but only in a couple of days. As said, the actual decision is likely one between keeping the status quo or switching to all sans-serif.

• I hope they don't switch to all sans-serif. On high resolution displays serif fonts look great almost like written on paper. But maybe this is my personal preference. Sans Serif is good however for UI elements (like links Share Edit etc below each post). – Paramanand Singh May 11 at 13:22
• Thank you for the answer, i had assumed that it 'obviously' had an easy solution. In fact, the path forward is forked and it's not clear which would be preferred... – Calvin Khor May 12 at 1:17

The font used question titles varies among the various stack exchange forums. Math.se has a serif font, as you noted. But for example Academia.se has a sans serif font:

On the other hand, it seems that the items in the right sidebar use the same (sans serif) font everywhere.