This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on building your typography skills:
- Part 1 - 16 Vital Typography Terms To Learn To Start Enhancing Your Designs “Invisibly”
- Part 2 - [You Are Here] - How To Choose The Right Font For Your Design
- Part 3 - 4 Fast Ways To Level Up Your Typography Game
Choosing the “right” font for your design determines how well your designs are perceived.
The title of this article should actually be “How To Choose The Right Typeface For Your Design” because the choice you’re making is about typeface and not font. Let’s not get bogged down by the minor details just yet though.
First, let’s talk about shoes and how they relate to typography.
The shoes a person wears leave an impression.
A man can wear beaten, faded jeans, an old, faded shirt, and have unkempt hair. But if his shoes are clean and polished, people notice.
He is perceived positively wearing these shoes:
He’d be perceived negatively wearing these shoes:
If you don’t believe shoes matter this much, then ask other people what they notice when they first meet someone.
An expensive suit with old dirty dress shoes creates a bad first impression.
How does this boil down to talking about fonts and typefaces? Your font and typefaces can be the shoes of your design.
Even if typography itself is only 10% of your overall design, it can still have a major impact on how the design is perceived overall.
Let’s dig a little deeper into fonts and typefaces. Remember, a font is a specific size and style of a typeface.
(In the previous article about typography terms, we reviewed typographic terminology and we mentioned that one example of a typeface is Helvetica... The font itself would then be Helvetica italic 10-point.)
It follows then that the first part of choosing the right font starts with choosing the right typeface.
We’ll cover how to use something called a Pangram to help you choose the right font later in this article.
4 Ways To Choose The Right Typeface
1. Use Safe Typefaces
Every designer has some amazingly outlandish typefaces that they use for special occasions. However, 95% of the time you are designing, you’ll use safe and clean typefaces. These safe typefaces are akin to the shoes you wear everyday.
It’s better for a typeface to be clear and legible, rather than so unreadable that it’s distracting from the overall communication goals of the design. If someone has to spend an extra 4 seconds to understand what have written, then they will disregard your design.
Here are some safe sans-serif typefaces you might start with: Arial, Impact, Lucida Grande, Tahoma, Verdana, and Helvetica.
Here are some safe serif typefaces to start with: Georgia, Palatino, and Times New Roman.
These fonts are likely available to you and will display on the web with little to no issues (they’re what are known as “web safe fonts”).