Does Your Font Speak For You?
Your font selection is one of few opportunities in your design to really express yourself and what your company stands for. It can relay a sense of humor, show off your highest level of professionalism, or show your audience that you’re a creative powerhouse.
So the first step in font selection is to define your brand’s personality. With virtually millions of fonts to choose from, having a clear identity will help you sift through all of them and choose the one that works best. Once you’ve taken that step, here are some simple guidelines to guide you through the rest of the process.
Define your goals
Examine the nature of your content. Is it mostly graphics, headings, or all body copy? Are you developing a promotional piece, or are your goals more educational? Different fonts relay different levels of formality. And some fonts are easier to read than others. Their defining characteristics include: spacing, kerning, the cap of the letters, style, proportion, and weight. Different characteristics make them suitable for different situations like body text, headers or logos.
Know your font families
- Serif. Serif fonts are defined by their decorative feet. They are considered easy to read. For that reason, they are often used in books and newspapers where headers are scarce and body copy is long. Examples: Times New Roman, Georgia, and Book Antiqua.
- Sans Serif. The opposite of Serif, Sans Serif fonts have no feet or decorative extensions on the letters. Examples include: Arial, Tahoma, TebuchetMS, and Verdana
- Cursive. Just as its name suggests, cursive resembles handwriting. It is also very difficult to read and rarely used. Examples: Comic Sans, Embassy BT, and BernhardTango
- Fantasy. Because they are overly ornamental and decorative, fantasy fonts are not used very often. They are considered informal and can be extremely difficult to read. Examples: Bamboo, Mejicana, and Tambor-Adornado.
- Monospace. In monospace fonts, the letters take up the exact same width of space between each other, even letters like “W” and “I”. This font is not recommended for body copy. It draws attention to individual letters rather than words, which can make it difficult to read. It is often used to mimic old-school typewriter fonts, computer coding, or technical copy.
5 most popular fonts
A sans-serif font that’s very highly used. (Although some say the spacing is too tight).
A serif font that’s usually used to convey a feeling of the past (way back in the past- think Roman times)
A serif font used very often in long bodies of text due to its readability
A sans serif font often used in large displays, logos, or corporate typefaces
A serif font good for headlines and decorative fonts
To create variation and interest within your piece, you’ll want to experiment with pairing different fonts. The keys to a successful pairing are concord and conflict:
Concord refers to the presence of similar traits, such as kerning, cap style, and proportion. If you are using two fonts from the same family, check the curves of the text, the angles of the round letters, and the feet to make sure they don’t contrast with each other or overcrowd the page.
Contrast is when you use two fonts from different families to show hierarchy; differentiate between headers and footers; or make specific information stand out. Contrast can be defined by: style, size, weight, form, color, etc.
Web vs Print
As you’ve just read, different situations call for different fronts. The same is true when it comes to web vs print. When considering which font to use for your web project, it is important to use a font that can be viewed in bulk and for large periods of time. Many believe that sans-serif fonts are better suited to electronic formats. However, there is little data to back this up. As long as you are using universal system fonts that will be recognized on any computer and displayed consistently across any browser, screen or device you should be covered. Some of these fonts include: Calibri, Tahoma, and Verdana.
In print, the opposite is thought to be true. Serif fonts are considered easier to read because the feet differentiate each letter, leading the eye across the page. There is more room for experimentation in print, because there is less stress on the eye to process the content. Factors like light refraction and screen size are not an issue.
The main thing to remember is that your font is an expression of your brand. Experiment and try things out. The guidelines provided in this blog entry are only meant to be guidelines. Your out-of-the-box font combinations may be just the shakeup you need to make your next piece stand out from the competitors. It’s called innovation. Just make sure your body text is legible and that your headers and graphics pop. Extreme choices distract from the content so try to use fonts that blend in for the body text and save your extravagant fonts for headlines, logos, and graphics where the goal is to catch the reader’s eye and draw them in.
Creative MediaWorks specializes in graphics and visual communications to support the healthcare community with their medical communication initiatives. We have 25 years of experience in graphic design, multimedia, and digital printing services. If you need help in the layout or design of your next print or web project, call (800) 737-1123 to speak to our Creative Services manager. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to share our expertise.