How to Choose Fonts
Why Does a Font Matter?
Choosing the right font is incredibly important to your brand. The right choice can immediately give viewers an impression of who you are, what you're about, and the type of service you can provide. But how?
The typography on your website, logo, or other publication says a lot about your brand, perhaps without you even knowing it!
Here are a couple of examples of fonts that are so universal that they invoke an immediate reaction in people:
Love them or hate them, they are no longer acceptable to many people.
Throughout much of the last two decades, people chose to use these fonts because they were a "fun" option outside of typical Times New Roman or Arial that were available in their Microsoft Office Suite.
Given that a typeface can invoke a reaction in your viewer, it's important to understand how to navigate choosing the font that represents you or your business best.
There are a few main categories of font styles which include Serif, Sans-Serif, Script, and Display. Within these categories there are subcategories, but for our purposes, we will keep it simple here.
Serif fonts are the oldest form of lettering, dating back as far as 100 BCE Rome. There are many Roman fonts out there that imitate the writing style of Ancient Rome. In fact, Times New Roman is one of them!
So what is a serif?
A serif is a small embellishment placed at the endpoints of letters. These were initially in place to help readers differentiate between letters in written text. They work great for print materials because it helps readers easily identify letters even at a reduced size.
Sans is the French word for without, thus sans serif simply means "without serif." These typefaces were highly unfashionable throughout most of history. So much so that they were initially dubbed "grotesque" by the type foundries that created them. When searching for fonts, you may see grotesque in the name. This just means it's a sans serif font.
It was only in the twentieth century that sans serif fonts had their comeuppance. They have become especially popular with the advent of computer and television screens and are used perhaps more frequently in the modern era.
###Script Fonts Script fonts were invented earlier and used more frequently than sans serif fonts. Script typefaces imitate handwriting and often mimic cursive writing.
Display is a catch-all term for pretty much anything that doesn't fall into the other categories. They are called display fonts because they are typically used for catching attention rather than readability or legibility.
There are endless styles of display fonts, the important part is that you know that they are NOT typically intended for use in body text. The right display font could make for a good header, but for any phrase longer than a few words, steer clear. They are very useful in logo design and page layout.
Mood and Message
The first thing you should do, if you haven't already, is to figure out the message, medium, and mood of your design, your message is what you want the viewer to take away from seeing your design. The medium is where the design will be displayed or viewed, and the mood is the feeling you would like to invoke in the viewer.
Generally speaking, your choice of type should be representative of the mood behind your message. Your logomark and imagery should represent the message itself, but the font you choose sets the mood.
If you are seeking to invoke professionalism, seek out a font that has stood the test of time and has been used in professional applications. This is where Arial and Times New Roman could be great choices.
If you wish to invoke creativity or a free-spirited attitude, choose something with a little more flair or style. Is your brand strong, bold, and aggressive? Choose a font that looks heavy on the page. The sturdiness comes across subliminally. Is your brand delicate, flowery, or feminine? Choose a font that reflects these characteristics. A dainty serif font will suggest beauty and attention to detail.
If you're just starting out searching for fonts, I hope this helped to break down the different options you have to choose from and a little bit of how you might apply them.
I will be posting a follow-up blog post shortly discussing how to pair fonts together to provide a more dynamic feel and promote visual interest.