A lot of time can be spent on writing the right words, but an often overlooked element from non-designers is font choice.
Whether you’re designing a website for thousands or a flyer for your school fete, choosing the right fonts is key to effective communication.
Much like the words themselves, font choice can influence the user in all sorts of conscious and unconscious ways.
Choosing and pairing the right fonts is like preparing an outfit. You’ll dress quite differently at a wedding than you would if you were going to a concert.
In the same vein, consider the purpose of the design you’re creating, and use this to define your style. Is it modern or classic? Is your target audience young, old, playful or conservative? How much space do you have, what is the message and what’s the medium?
Don’t work in isolation – look at existing designs and find inspiration in the fonts and typography they’ve used. Inspiration is everyone, and once you start paying attention to it, you’ll see how fonts used in your favourite products mesh with their purpose.
Dressing for the occasion
With so many different fonts available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the great selection. But that needn’t be the case.
You’ll hear a lot of different terms when looking at fonts, but when you’re starting out you can simply focus on four basic categories when selecting fonts: serif, sans-serif, display and scripts.
Serif fonts are classic, such as Times New Roman or Courier. Serif fonts are the little leading lines at the start end of the letters. Serifs will help to make your design more sophisticated and traditional and are also great for making longer copy (especially in print) easier to read when grouped together. Two popular examples include Freight Text and Garamond.
Sans-serif fonts can look much cleaner and streamlined in your designs, because they don’t have the little lines on the end of the letters (their serifs). While they look clearer, sans-serif fonts can be a bit harder to read in longer copy. The only exception to this rule is in digital mediums where, at smaller sizes, serif fonts can actually become harder to read as the serifs can become distorted and harder to read. Futura and Proxima Nova are two commonly used sans-serif fonts.
Display fonts, also known as dress or decorative fonts, are aimed at making a statement. These fonts are usually striking and should be used in conjunction with other fonts as a headline or to draw attention in some other purpose. These fonts quickly become hard to read if used in longer copy. Some popular examples include Acier BAT and JAF Zalamander
Scripts take serifs to the next level by aiming to simulate a flowing handwritten style. They can vary wildly from elegant typography, to a handwritten chalkboard style. Some examples include Hummingbird or Grafolita.
Choosing the right font
The most important aspect to making good typographic choices is understanding your target audience.
Your typography will communicate certain aspects of a product or service to an audience, such as playfulness or sophistication, so it’s important to have a clear idea of who your audience is and what you want them to feel when they look at your design.
Enfantine font was originally created for a children’s book, but has since been used in products from bath foams to tea towels.
Which brings us to the last aspect – you need to consider the use of your design to choose typography that visually fits the space and is functional. Is it for a juice bottle? A webpage? Or will you be using it for all your branding collateral?
Your fonts must fit with the product or service and work with other elements of your design. Once you’ve settled on your font choices, you’ll need to consider the typographic hierarchy of your design.
Does your business need help with design?
At Assemblo, we can help you to develop a brand that resonates with your business to ensure your message cuts through.
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