How to Choose the Right Font: Tips and Guidelines
Selecting the suitable typeface or font may seem tricky, but with a little effort, it may prove fruitful for your content. Finding the font of your choice may be an exhausting or baffling task to build the beauty and uniqueness of the text, along with many available options. But once you are there, it serves as the key to the success of your new project. There are no pact rules regarding selecting a particular font. However, we will provide some basic guidelines to follow in this context. Here are some points you need to consider while choosing the correct font for your text:
The first and foremost point while making a font choice is to consider the brand you represent. Your font must match the brand’s character and embody its spirit. Every brand has its message for people, so the font must accurately depict the mood and message of the brand to its customers.
Designers can help themselves select the required font by listing keywords regarding their brand and then searching them in several fonts. Also, there are different fonts available for traditional and modern branding. For example, Garamond or Caslon represents the traditional aspect, and Roboto or Raleway fits modern-day ideas well.
Another vital point to remember is the project’s scope in which the font will be used. Some fonts have a limited scope and are less flexible than others. While choosing the right font, you must consider all the factors, like whether the font works well in digital and print projects and the period for which this font will be used.
So, if you select a font for multiple projects, ensure it works well in all mediums. For example, when selecting the font for a printed project, Book Antiqua would be more suitable than Georgia.
Legibility is also one of the crucial elements when deciding the font style for your content. The overall design of the typeface is determined by multiple factors. When writing any content, you should balance the artistic flair and legibility of the content. A glamorous text has no purpose if the audience cannot grasp its meaning.
Decorative fonts have low legibility and are used only for headings as they are great as titles but hard to read in paragraphs. The typefaces used for novels and newspapers have high legibility, making them readable without putting extra strain on the reader. For example, Sabon is a classic font style having high legibility, whereas Tobin Tax is a fancy font with low legibility.
So, conventional letterforms and generous spacing among letters determine the legibility of any text. Avoid using too many fancy fonts, as it lowers the legibility of text.
Usually, legibility and readability are considered the same term, but it’s not entirely true. Readability is the most crucial feature of the font style. It is the combination of various factors like text size, style, color, leading, and tracking. This property imparts the overall impression of the content. Altering various independent factors can change the readability of the text. Any writing with decreased size, lightened color, modified tracking, and leading will have low readability.
To enhance the readability of your text, prefer the typefaces designed for a particular purpose. For example, display fonts that are specifically designed for headings and titles. Also, the lines between texts should be adequately spaced to avoid additional effort by the readers. Hence, readability must be your priority while developing any project, as communication comes before style.
Remember to check the functionality while making a font choice. Some fonts may look perfect in every size, whereas some may work at a specific size and weight. Therefore, when selecting a font, you should check all these aspects to determine whether your chosen font is suited to your requirement.
Some fonts are designed explicitly for headings and cannot be used in the body of text. Using such typefaces in the body of text will affect the readability of the text. Similarly, the size of fonts also matters. The font that looks good in a small size in the general text might look less impactful in headings and titles. However, there are some typefaces like Roboto that work well in a variety of sizes.
Every project carries a specific message, and the selected font should be able to depict that. A wrong typeface can seriously alter the context of your text. If your project illustrates a severe message, use a serious font. For example, when selecting the font for a historical society website, a font like Crimson Text will be best suited. Using a modern font like Open Sans will not help there.
It is essential to determine at the start of the project whether translation would be needed. Because every typeface does not support special characters like Greek and Cyrillic alphabets, every project also does not need to be translated into multiple languages.
Always be sure that the chosen font is designed in such a way as to at least support a variety of Latin characters like accents and umlauts. With unsupported accents, it will become hard to spell different words, making your project unprofessional. Would you like to use our Hindi font generator?
Why Choosing the Right Font Matters
As you have gone through all the solid tips for selecting a font, you should know how to choose the right font. You must know why this matters, the main objective behind all this effort, the pros of making the right font choice, and the cons of not doing so.
It is a famous quote that “Optimizing typography means optimizing readability, accessibility, overall graphic balance.” It would help if you kept in mind the goal of your work, which is to make a strong impression on your audience. Remember, there is only a single chance to make a first impression.
So, the font you select must have a good combination of readability, legibility, and appropriateness for your text. All these points need some consideration to make your project smoother. It will make it easy for the readers to grasp the idea behind your project by looking at the designs and choices you made.
Understanding Fonts- The Basics of Typography
What is a font?
A font is a graphical representation of text, including printable and displayable typography. It has different typefaces, weights, sizes, designs, and colors. In this article, you will see font and typeface being used interchangeably, but understanding their difference is essential for a clear concept of certain things.
A typeface is a family of various sets of features for different alphabets and characters, while a font refers to a specific set of features within that typeface family. For example, Helvetica is a typeface family with multiple fonts like Helvetica Bold, Oblique, and Helvetica Regular. Would you like to use our Helvetica font generator?
Types of Fonts
Adequate knowledge about each type is necessary to choose the right font for your project. Depending upon several characteristics, fonts are classified into the following major categories:
- Sans serif
- Decorative or Display
In Serif fonts, there is a minor stroke on the characters called serif. It gives an elegant and traditional look to this font. They are mainly used for newspapers, magazines, and books due to their better readability. Not all serif fonts are the same; they all show some variations that make them unique. Following are the subcategories of this class:
Old Style Serifs
These are the oldest font styles designers use that tend to go for a classic look rather than a trendy one. They show an influence from calligraphy, with characters showing diagonal stress. These fonts are round, inclined, and cupped, including Garamond and Palatino.
The typefaces developed during the 18th century are called transitional serifs. In this style, there is a higher contrast between thick and thin strokes with more vertically stressed characters and sharper serifs. Examples include New Times Roman and Baskerville.
In the late 18th century, fonts became more refined and detailed due to progress in printing methods. There is a very high contrast between thick and thin strokes with complete vertical stress. Hence, the characters are flat and straight. LTC Bodoni 175 is an example of such a font style.
SANS SERIF FONT
These fonts are different as they lack the extra stroke characteristic of Serif. Their first printable type was created in the 18th century but was considered informal. However, they are versatile tools today due to their modern, minimal, and clean look. They are highly legible and are used by brands as they are bold and eye-catching. Following are the subtypes of this class, each having some distinctive characteristics:
This style rose to popularity in the 20th century. Its prominent characteristics are open aperture gaps letterforms and a medium contrast between thin and thick strokes. They depict a uniform and less refined appearance than their counterparts. For example, Bambino and Bogle.
They have no contrast between thick and thin strokes, which gives them a streamlined appearance. They are more refined, having simple and clean aesthetics; that’s why they are one of the most popular fonts today. Examples include Helvetica.
Some people think that modern sans serif lacks character and humanity. Therefore, these fonts became popular in the 20th century. Based on the proportions of Roman-style capitals, they give a calligraphic influence. They resemble the look that a person would create with a pen. They are a better choice for logos and texts due to their clean, clear, and legible character. Open Sans and Cantarell are examples.
They are very innovative and modern-looking fonts having a structured feel. As can be inferred from their name, they are inspired by various geometric shapes like triangles, squares, circles, etc. Examples include Futura and Century Gothic.
Script fonts mimic handwriting and channeling strokes and thus add artistry to your project. They depict elegance and prestige as they flourish more than the previous categories of fonts. They are primarily used by brands to show creativity. The famous logo of the Coca-Cola brand is a prime example.
Script fonts include both casual and formal fonts. Their setback is that they need to be legible. Examples are Allura and Lobster fonts.
Decorative or Display fonts are the vastest category of font styles that range from scripts to monotypes and include everything in-between. They are mainly used for billboards, posters, headings, and titles. Such fonts add character to your designs but are challenging to read. Therefore, these should be used for shorter paragraphs of body text.
These fonts are used extensively by brands to depict a fun and eccentric vibe through their logos. For example, Disney, Baskin-Robbins, Fanta, etc.
These fonts were used for typewriters and computers in the past. In a monospace font, all characters have equal horizontal spacing; therefore, they are also called fixed-pitch or non-proportional font. Due to their better legibility, they are the best choice for functions like software text editing and coding.
How do Fonts Communicate?
Having a diverse choice of fonts helps in understanding how to choose the right font. Each font communicates in a particular way and imparts a definite message to the projects. Serif fonts are better known for their classic and traditional vibe, while Sans serif presents a more modern, clean, and geometric look. Slab serifs are considered vintage and masculine; however, Scripts are more feminine due to their refined and elegant look. Display fonts are unusual and funky, mainly designed to grab the project’s attention. The use of handwriting-like fonts makes the text more approachable and custom.
Consider Your Audience
When designing any project, what do you think is your main focus? Your audience. They should be able to grasp the concept of your branding vividly. So you better make a choice that accords well with your audience. If your project is for children and kids, opt for a friendly and fun font. For a more sophisticated lot, you will want an elegant and sensible font style. And along with all these factors, there must be no compromise over the readability and legibility of the text. So, the overall aesthetics of your design must be the one expected by your audience.
What Message Are You Trying To Convey?
The selected font should adequately convey the message you are representing. If you are designing for a brand, ensure your brand’s personality and visuals are depicted. Another factor to remember is whether your planned project will be used in print or digital form.
Moreover, the type of message affects your thinking about how to choose the right font. What is the kind of your brand or product? Serious or funky? Friendly or formal? Crafty or sleek? Establish your message by considering these points and then impart it to the target audience with a suitable font choice.
Thus before making a choice, be sure what you are representing, a feeling, theme, or a visual motif, and then engage your audience with the message you are communicating.
Matching Fonts to Content
Now our next main focus is to make sure that the chosen font matches the content. We will briefly discuss each type that in which context it should be used:
- Serifs are best known for their readability. They guide the eyes from one letter to the next automatically, thus, are considered very legible. They add a traditional touch to your content and are suitable for long-format texts.
- Most digital content is preferred in Sans serif as it has clean and crisp lines perfect for on-screen readability. It is found in default typefaces of many digital devices as it is legible at more minor points. Sans serifs are diverse and can be used for display and body text.
- Script fonts are not recommended for body or long-format text due to their legibility issues. However, they are perfect for gaining attention due to their somewhat decorative nature. The same goes for the usage of display fonts.
- Monospace fonts are very legible on computers and are widely used by programmers.
The Importance Of Font Hierarchy
Font hierarchy is one of the most critical aspects while communicating. It includes the combination of both spatial and typographic elements to obtain the desired model. Certain factors contribute to the formation of an effective typographic hierarchy:
- Style and weight are crucial elements in font hierarchy. Usually, bold and distinct typefaces are used for donating importance, headings, and subheadings.
- Size plays a significant role in drawing attention to a particular point. Mostly, a large extent is preferred for headings and denoting the importance of some text.
- Color is another crucial factor in font hierarchy that can emphasize and de-emphasize any point. A specific color, such as red, is usually selected to draw attention. However, using fewer colors can create confusion, lowering the effectiveness of the content.
- Case of letters usedalso plays a vital role in font hierarchy. Using caps can draw attention, but all caps also lessen the readability. Therefore, the use of upper and lowercase is usually preferred.
- Placement and spacing among the letters are crucial in determining the font hierarchy. Organize your content by placing all the related features with appropriate space between them.
- Alignment of elements is essential as it shows the text’s significance level. Titles and headings are usually placed in the center to show importance. Long-running readers draw less attention as compared to the headings and sub-headings.
- White space or negative space creates emphasis on a specific point. However, filling up every space can cause visual noise that should be avoided.
Pairing Fonts For Harmony And Contrast
In addition to legibility and aesthetics, font hierarchy and contrast are the main factors in combining fonts. Many queries arise in this aspect like what will be the most effective technique for pairing. You may have seen various headlines with body copy in magazines and newspapers. Apart from this, two different fonts can also be used in combination. Here are some tips regarding the pairing of fonts:
A superfamily is a set of fonts with similar characteristics that can work harmoniously. These provide variety and consistency as different styles can co-exist within a superfamily. For example, Macklin is a superfamily with multiple fonts like display, slab, sans, and text.
Use of Hierarchy
While pairing fonts, create a visual hierarchy in your content. Utilizing point size and weight efficiently matters significantly as it enables the two typefaces to co-exist effectively.
Contrast of Fonts
The first and foremost step in pairing fonts is to select fonts in which the traits complement each other. One of the most common pairs is using Sans Serif for headlines and Serif for body text.
Among so many factors contributing to our thinking about how to choose the right font, similar x-heights also hold some significance. The x-height means the height of the lowercase letter x. There is no such foolproof theory but fonts with similar x-heights are usually considered suitable for pairing.
No Double Script
Script fonts are like cursive handwriting style and serve well in displays. Due to their flowery and artistry style, they are less legible. There are two types of script fonts, i.e., casual and formal. The recommendation is to never use these types together in a text.
Font Characteristics to Consider
Serif vs. Sans-Serif
One of the most common questions in the discussion about how to choose the right font is Serif or Sans Serif. These two are the basic categories of fonts. Sans serif has a minor stroke that distinguishes it from Serif. Both present diverse styles and have geometric, humanist, old-style, and transitional classifications. Serifs are traditional, whereas Sans serifs are modern.
The final decision of choosing between these two fonts depends on the length of your content. Serifs are more suitable for lengthy texts due to their better readability. The target audience also influences this choice. If your audience is children, you better go with Sans Serifs. These are also used for readers with visual abnormalities.
Here are some examples of both of these font styles:
- Serif: Georgia, Times New Roman, Lucida
- Sans Serif: Arial, Tahoma, Verdana
Weight and Style
Font weight and style greatly matter when making a choice. Each font category has some unique features that differentiate it from others. So, all the fonts contain slight variations. The weight could alter from hair thin to thick and tight to spacey. A thick weight might be suitable for a shorter name but not a longer one. Similarly, a thin font will look good on posters or billboards but disappear in small point sizes.
In the same way, each letterform has a specific style in each font that contributes to its distinction from others. You better check all letters in both cases before making the final choice.
Font Size and Spacing
The size of letters and spacing between the letterforms are two crucial elements contributing to better readability and legibility. Large font size is the key to grabbing an eye towards a text and is used for headings and titles. Using this same font size for the body copy will create a mess in the overall content. Appropriate spacing among letters is also essential as it saves the extra effort for readers to distinguish between words or lines.
Testing and Refining Your Choices
After you have made a choice, it is necessary to test and refine the selection you made. There are specific points that should be considered before finalizing a font style:
Tips for Testing Your Font Choices
Following are some simple factors that affect your font choice:
It is a crucial element in the process of how to choose the right font. After you have found the appropriate font for your work, make sure it is licensed. Therefore, knowledge about font licensing is essential.
Some fonts are neutral and can easily blend with any font style; however, some have limited combinations due to their distinctive characteristics. This process requires experience and practice.
Large Font Families
Large font families give us multiple choices when selecting a font for your project. Different weights and styles are present, and switching among these offer flexibility to the designer.
Large Font Families
Large font families give us multiple choices when selecting a font for your project. Different weights and styles are present, and switching among these offer flexibility to the designer.
Avoid trite correlations, like don’t go for Futura font style just because your project is about the future. Similarly, don’t select comics sans just because your topic is witty. Other things besides matter must be observed.
Refining Your Selection
Here are some tips for refining your final selection:
A Limited Number Of Total Fonts
A maximum of 2-3 fonts should be used in a single project. Using too many different fonts will create visual confusion. Change the font sizes rather than the full font.
Avoid Similar Fonts
If you are going for multiple fonts per project, ensure they are not too similar. Otherwise, they will clash, and no visual diversity will be created.
Rule of Thumb
When choosing two fonts together, select those with one quality in common and all others different. There should be one more prominent font than the other. A combination of serif and sans serif is a classic one.
In this article, we have covered several topics under a single heading. All these aspects will teach you how to choose the right font. To summarize, always select the most appropriate typeface for your work. It does not mean the font that looks best; it means the font that fulfills the requirement of the audience and clients.
Always keep in mind that your main goal is to engage the audience. Consider their interests and age group to ensure that your product or information is clearly conveyed to them. In short, you cannot rank any font type as good or bad instead; they should be rated as appropriate or inappropriate. So, when making the final choice, select the one that is readable, legible, and conveys your message.