Choosing the Right Font to Reinforce your Message
Whether you are building your website, designing a marketing campaign, or promoting a book or film; you want the message of your design to be clear and unambiguous. Choosing the right font to help communicate that message can be as important as the message itself.
Fonts can be broken down into 5 major categories; Serif, Sans Serif, Slab, Script and Decorative. Each typeface brings with it underpinning characteristics, which can support (or dilute) the meaning you are trying to create in your design.
A Serif font will by definition have a small decorative line at the end of the character stroke. A classic example of a Serif font is Times New Roman or Cambria used by default when typing in Microsoft Word, for example.
Serif fonts are classic, and their use implies class, literacy and high-end messaging. They are also highly readable which makes them perfect for blocks of text in books, brochures and fine print.
The Sans in Sans Serif means “not”, as in they do not have the small decorative line at the end of each character. A classic example many will be familiar with is Arial (which is what you are reading now).
Sans Serif fonts are modern and clean. They communicate strength and clarity. They also are chosen for easy readability with added benefits of working well in low resolution environments like websites and eReaders. Thick Sans Serif fonts represent masculinity and hard work; while thin lines appear glamorous and regal.
Slab Serif fonts use a block effect for the decorative line on the character. They have the appearance of a good old fashion typewriter. A good example of Slab Serif is the Rockwell typeface.
Slab Serif fonts bring an old-school, vintage, nerdy, retro feel to the text. While good for readability in logos and headers, this font can appear difficult in extended blocks of text.
Script fonts have a handwritten cursive style. A good example is the Brush Script font.
Script fonts can convey a wide range of underlining messages. High-end calligraphic styles represent formality and tradition and are therefore used a lot for wedding invitations; while the low end grunge scribble looks more like an artsy and modern scrawl. Overall, they have a more feminine feel. Script fonts can be very difficult to read, especially in small text, so use judiciously for effects but avoid for the fine print.
Decorative fonts are those highly stylized, creative typeface which can be either powerful in communicating your message, or make you appear amateurish and comical. Decorative fonts are best when used by trained professionals who know how to walk that fine line – but when used correctly they can create a powerful way to reinforce your concept.
The dreamstime logo on the top of this page is a great example of decorative fonts done right!
While choosing a font may not seem like the most critical design decision you need to make, choosing the wrong one can certainly have a negative effect. So choose wisely and you will reinforce the message you are trying to convey instead of taking away from it.
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