Fonts are not something most people consider very often, although they are a critical element of typesetting to ensure readability. There are certain fonts that are more standard for certain types of documents, while in other cases there is a bit more flexibility. Personal preference also plays a significant part. What follows is a font recommendations guide depending on the type of document you are creating and some basic, useful information about fonts in general.
The definition of a font in modern, digital typesetting refers to the weight, style and size of typed letters. Times New Roman, Arial and Helvetica Neue are all examples of fonts. Originally, “font” was a term used in metal typesetting, and has evolved to refer to text in the computer era. There are different “families” of fonts, such as serif fonts and sans serif fonts. The main difference between serif and sans serif fonts is that serif fonts have small embellishments at the tip and base of each letter to make them unique and distinct. Sans serif fonts do not have these embellishments. Serif fonts are generally considered more standard and easier to read.
Where To Get New Fonts
Computers come pre-loaded with many, many different font options. However, there are additional fonts that can be downloaded from other sources. Some of these are free and others are under copyright and can be downloaded for a fee, so it is important to understand your usage rights before using any font. For example, a font under copyright cannot be used for commercial purposes without the explicit consent of the copyright holder. This means you cannot use it in your book and then sell the book without the permission of the copyright holder.
Document Types and Recommended Fonts
Many articles, blog posts and other content are posted for online viewing these days. Font choice is again more flexible, although readability needs to be strongly considered. Fonts that work well online are not necessarily the same as fonts that work well in print. Arial, Courier and Verdana are considered the best options for online text. Do not forget to ensure the font reads well on mobile devices.
Logos have perhaps the most flexible range of acceptable fonts. Just about any font can be used effectively on a logo if it fits the image and brand of the company well. It takes a creative eye and good design instinct to choose the right font to use on a professional logo.
On resumes, the font you choose communicates a lot about your personality. This is important because getting across your personality in your resume is key for it to be noticed by employers. Basic, default fonts such as Times New Roman and Calibri are good choices. Other acceptable options include Arial, Garamond, Georgia and Helvetica. Artists, graphic designers and other creative professionals can get a little more inventive with the font they use to showcase their creativity and originality.
With letters, basic, default fonts are often best. Anything more unusual or fancy might come across as unprofessional or distracting. This is true regardless of whether you are writing a letter to a close personal friend or to someone in a professional capacity. Stick with Times New Roman or Calibri.
Flyers and Brochures
There are plenty of acceptable fonts for flyers and brochures. Most flyers and brochures should use different types of fonts to look more attractive and draw the reader’s eye. For example, a heading should be in a different font than a caption. Heading fonts can be a little fancier, such as in Argent, Ravensara or Venti Sans Serif typefaces. The body can consist of Century Gothic, Helvetica or Verdana. It really depends on the service or information you are trying to convey on your brochure. Because brochures and flyers are supposed to look more decorative, basic fonts such as Times New Roman do not tend to look as good on them.
Books typically use several different types of fonts, including for chapter headings, title pages and the text itself. With books, readability is key, so you do not want to use any fonts that are too fancy and distracting from the words on the page. Fonts such as Garamond, Adobe Caslon Pro and Minion Pro are all good options for body text. Fonts such as Times New Roman and Calibri should NOT be used for printed books. Ebooks are another category altogether because the font gets altered based on reader preference and the distributor’s default. A basic font should be used for ebooks to prevent compatibility and readability issues.
Plays and Screenplays
Courier and its variants (such as Courier New) are considered the standard fonts for plays and screenplays. Other fonts are not viewed as acceptable. This makes plays and screenplays different and more restrictive in font choice from other types of fiction, as outlined above.
Fonts and typefaces are actually more important than you likely believe they are. Fortunately, simpler is often better in nearly every circumstance. Learn about the different kinds of fonts so you will have a good idea of your options. Of course, remember that personal preference plays a significant role as well. With the sheer amount of font styles available, you are sure to find one (or more) that meet your needs.
James Gorski: In addition to being the editor at designrfix and writing about tech, web and graphic design among other subjects, I love “unplug” and be outdoors hiking and enjoying nature. If you can’t reach me, it’s probably because where I am at doesn’t have cell phone reception.