Fonts for grant proposals

The reference font for the body text of European proposals is Times New Roman (Windows platforms), Times/Times New Roman (Apple platforms) or Nimbus Roman No. 9 L (Linux distributions). The Roman family is from a pre-digital age and has well-recognizable features.

Is it the best font in terms of readability? On the one hand, there is a tendency to move from Times-type fonts to plainer fonts, like Calibri. On the other hand, many studies (with controversial results) account for aspects like Dyslexia, typeface anatomy, and Display vs. Print. The effect of font choice on readability and compression on big numbers seems small or insignificant. However, my point is that a proposal must be clear to a few reviewers, who might have difficulties understanding the proposal due to age, Dyslexia, and colour vision deficiency. These few people will have some feelings about how the text is formatted. For that reason and also because of my artistic education in caligraphy, I have been looking for and playing with font combinations for a long time. Here is what I have tried and liked.

1. STIX two and Source Sans form a pair of Serif and Sans fonts. STIX two resulted from a collaborative effort from the most prominent academic publishing companies. Its predecessor (STIX one) has exactly the same metrics as Times New Roman. STIX two is somewhat bigger, which is not prohibited by the EU funding agencies. The main benefit of using STIX fonts is that these are mathematical fonts and, thus, can be natively used in MS Equation Editor (instead of Cambria) and LaTeX (as XITS or STIX2).

2. An excellent substitution for Times New Roman is Zilla Slab – a unique font by the Mozilla foundation – which has the same metrics as Times New Roman, is a Sans font, yet looks like a monospace one, does have features of a Dyslexia-friendly typeface, and looks great in print and on screen. It is freely available from Google fonts. It can be used with Times New Roman (or similar) as a pair of Serif and Sans fonts.

3. Libertinus Serif + Gill Sans is my favourite Serif and Sans pair. You can see Linux Libertine in the Wikipedia logo. Gill Sans Nova is commonly fond in the University of Tartu (Estonia) press. Although Libertinus Serif has an original Sans counterpart, its combination with Gill Sans looks most natural. I love Libertinus because of its amazingly looking ligatures, and it is also compatible with MS Equation Editor and LaTeX.

PS One can play with fonts in the EU projects to make their proposal more appealing. Like Estonian grants, I prefer calls, where applicants fill out online forms without changing the text appearance. Of course, the text looks ugly due to nasty line breaks, horrible chemical formulas and mathematical equations, and poor typography. Still, the competition is more fair because everyone is in the same conditions. 

The second visit of Iuliia

By Iuliia:


I have been collaborating with the Electrical Double Layer group from the University of Tartu since the beginning of 2016. I had been to Tartu once, in March’2016, and this August I have visited the group again. During this visit, I was accompanied by Dr. Marco Preto, Researcher in Novelmar Project from Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research of the University of Porto.
The host institution received us very warmly. There was no need to settle any bureaucracy procedures – Estonian efficiency does not cease to amaze me. Everything was taken care of in advance, and we immediately got out a working spaces, keys or anything we could need for work. I think such attitude is very important for these short visits.
In Estonia we spent two wonderful weeks with work and leisure interconnected. Most of the time in Tartu we worked closely with Dr. Vladislav Ivaništšev and his team, where very productive work was carried out, with social activity interludes that recharged us with a relaxed exchange of ideas. During this visit, the work on developing of an approach to an analysis of electrical double layer in ionic liquids systems was conducted, and an article on our previously done work was prepared for submission.
Among all the Master and PhD students, that are being trained at the group, Meeri Lembinen must be acknowledged especially. Meeri, besides being a brilliant student, is a perfect manager. I suspect, due to her care and attention we have not got a single problem at the university and during the whole stay were accompanied by her and felt like at home.
I hope, our fruitful collaboration is to be continued!


Iuliia (left), Meeri (right)

Come visit us in Tartu! Apply for scholarships!

Soon there will be an opportunity to apply money for one-to-ten months-long visits, study and research at the university of Tartu.

Scholarships is offered to foreign master and doctoral students. See more at:

Let us know if you are interested to do some collaborations with us and we are happy to help!

DPhil student Samuel Coles came to visit

In Febuary and March last year I visited Tartu to work with the double layer group on a short term scientific mission funded by COST action MP1306. The aim of my visit was to develop a molecular dynamics setup for performing simulations of boundary film shear. During this mission I worked closely with Dr Vladislav Ivaništšev on developing simulation setups and developing a scripting framework. This works is a three way collaboration between the group in Tartu, The group of my supervisor Prof. Susan Perkin and Prof. Maxim Federov at the University of Strathclyde.

During the STSM I also got to explore both Tartu and Estonia more widly. The beauty and historical interest of the area was a welcome distraction from work, during an otherwise highly productive STSM.

Samuel Coles

STSM of Dr. Iuliia Voroshylova

Dr. Iuliia Voroshylova from the University of Porto came to visit us in March for a short term scientific mission. Thank you for the cooperation and work done here.


In this STSM visit molecular dynamic simulations of mixtures of two ionic liquids (ILs) – [EMIM][NTf2] and [EMIM][FEP] – were performed in a wide concentration range near neutral and charged Au(111) and Hg(111) surfaces. The focus of this study was on the electrochemical properties of an ionic liquid mixture at an electrified interface that results from the restructuring of the electrical double layer induced by the applied potential and by the variation of the ionic liquid composition. For this study, the new method of representing of electrodes was developed. This method involves a positioning of an additional layer, composed of tiny charged spheres, in front of the electrode. This allows an effective account of surface charge. The steric effects and the inter-ion interactions in the electrical double layer next to the charged and neutral gold and mercury interfaces were accessed. The main mechanisms of ionic interaction in these mixtures related to the layered structure of the IL at the electrolyte–electrode interface that imposes potential energy barriers for the ions moving the direction normal to the electrode surface was studied.

Iuliia’s visit

from left Vladislav Ivanistsev, Iuliia Voroshilova, Isabel Lage, Meeri Lembinen, Samuel Coles

My Estonia experience has come to an end a few days ago when I returned to my habitual residence in Portugal after having spent one important month in the amazing Tartu, where I had such great time and made so many truly amazing friends with whom I shared so many fantastic moments!

I spend last March in The University of Tartu, with a Short Term Scientific Mission funded by COST action CM1206. The visit was meant to be a start of a new collaboration between our two research groups: the host group lead by Prof. Enn Lust (University of Tartu, Estonia) and the home group lead by Prof. Carlos M. Pereira and Prof. M. Natália D. S. Cordeiro (University of Porto, Portugal), and it definitely was a promising start! In the Analytical and Electroanalytical Chemistry Group (where my superviser in prof. Carlos M. Pereira) we study electrical double layer in solutions of ionic liquids experimentally, and in the Theoretical Chemistry Group (under the guidance of prof. M. Natália D. S. Cordeiro) we simulate bulk properties of ionic liquids and ionic liquids behavior on uncharged surfaces. The idea of this collaboration was to learn approaches to access electrical double layer phenomenon, observed experimentally, in computer simulation. The host group has an experience in simulation of charged electrode surfaces and in automating the computation work flow, as the leading developer of the NaRIBaS scripting framework, Dr. Vladislav Ivaništšev, works there. Thus, it was a perfect match! I could not find another group where I could learn all the “tricks” about simulation the charged interfaces and automate my calculations at the same time. During this mission I worked closely with Dr. Vladislav Ivaništšev on developing simulation setups and methods of charging the electrode’s surface. During my visit, besides workshops on working in Atomic Simulation Environment, I attended a very useful workshop on Scientific Writing, given by Djuddah A. J. Leijen in AVOK – Centre for Academic Writing and Communication. The ideas I learned there I implemented in my every day work, which made me more productive.

During my stay in Tartu University I had a chance to work in several university buildings. First two weeks, I worked on the Institute of Phisics, so called “Physicum”, and the last two weeks I staying in the Institute of Chemistry, the “Chemicum” building. Both building are modern, spacious and luninous, and I found it to be very inspiring to work there. But … that was only during the working day! The evenings and weekends were intense and highly saturated with cultural events. Time I spent in Tartu University was not only a great period of learning and collaboration, but also a great traveling experience. As it was my first time not only in Tartu, but in Estonia as well, each evening and weekend me and my new estonian friends and colleagues were exploring Estonia. Most of ours attention was dedicated the city of Tartu, of course. I have been to University of Tartu Natural History Museum, to AHHAA Science Center, I visited Orchid exhibition in Tartu University Botanical Garden, Historical building of Tartu University. Almost every day I was visiting Tartu Old City with its parks and gardens, ruins of Tartu Cathedral, the Kissing Students monument and lovely little cafes. I was invited to attend a Movie Night in the C!FP Sorority, where learned the history of this remarkable organization and of Estonia itself. Also I visited the capital of Estonia, Tallinn, and now I can say that it is known as “Pearl of the Baltic Sea” because of a good reason. The capital if very beautiful, and it looks like a town from a fairy tale. A small and lovely town of Viljandi, which is considered to be cultural capital of Estonia, partly due to the Viljandi Culture Academy being located there, impressed me with its landscapes and ruins of an ancient castle. In all my adventures I was accompanied by a PhD student of the host group, Meeri Lembinen who is a remarkably friendly and helpful person.

from left Vladislav Ivanistsev, Iuliia Voroshilova, Isabel Lage, Meeri Lembinen, Samuel Coles
From left to right: Vladislav Ivanistsev, Iuliia Voroshilova, Isabel Lage, Meeri Lembinen, Samuel Coles

Summarizing, I would like to say, that my visit to Tartu University was a beautiful, intense and influential time, full of impression and emotions, replete with studying, friendship, collaboration, and travels. I learned a lot not only about simulation (which was huge!), but also about Estonian culture and history. I met good people, which become my friends. I would like to thank for all the help and hospitatily to Meeri Lembinen and Vladislav Ivaništšev, who made my visit truly productive in all senses. It was my first visit to Estonia, but it will not be the last, definitely!

Iuliia Voroshylova from University of Porto

Hello world!

We are a group of chemists connected by the University of Tartu. Tartu is located in Estonia. Estonia is a small country in Baltic region of Northern Europe.

The University of Tartu was founded in 1632 by the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus. It was initially called Academia Dorpatensis.

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