When it comes to maximizing the quality of your design, the importance of the fonts (also called typeface) cannot be underestimated. But when there are literally thousands of fonts to choose from, how do you know which ones to use? Here are 3 Tricks to choosing the best font.
- The Right Font for the Right Occasion
For experienced designers, they learn to choose fonts that “feel right” to them. For those of us who don’t design regularly, this feels intimidating. How do you know what feels right? The first design convention a designer will use is to answer the question “who is my target audience?” Don’t be afraid to do some research online to find designs that are similar to what you’d like to make. What fonts did the designer use? Do the fonts feels like they match the message?
For example, you wouldn’t use a stiff and serious font for a children’s party rental business. How does it look? It probably looks fine, but does it convey a feeling of fun and enjoyment? Experiment with several different fonts, and choose the font that feels right for the message you’re trying to convey. Have a serious message? Use a serious font. Have a fun message? Choose a fun font! You get the idea.
- Choose a Font That Either Corresponds or Contrasts
In your design, it can feel a little dull if you use the same font throughout. Instead, another design pro tipyou can follow is to use fonts that 1) are very similar or 2) have a lot of contrast. This is called “corresponding and contrast.” Let’s use baking a chocolate cake as an example of “corresponding”. Once your cake has cooled, what kind of frosting will you use? You could use chocolate frosting on your chocolate cake, which is straightforward and tastes great. Or, you could use a white chocolate frosting, which is a different style, but is still in the chocolate family.
When choosing fonts, this can be achieved by choosing from the same typeface. Let’s use the familiar font Times New Roman as an example:
- Times New Roman (regular)
- Times New Roman (bold)
- Times New Roman (italic)
All three lines look good together, because they are the same typeface, but are different weights (bold) and styles (italic). Another way to add variety is to play with the size of the fonts, which we will get to a little further down.
Now let’s imagine making something using the contrast option. Carrot cake is a good example; it’s a moist, spicy cake that uses a vegetable as its star ingredient. When it’s time to add frosting, the number one choice is a buttery, whipped cream cheese spread. It’s not a style or variety of carrot, or even part of the vegetable family. It’s creamy and buttery, and provides a dense and satisfying complement to the spicy cake.
You can apply this example to fonts by choosing a bold font and tempering it with a clean, simple font. Here is a free online resource to help you find good font combinations: https://www.canva.com/font-combinations/
- For Goodness Sake, Make Sure It’s Easy to Read
Size is important – it helps people know what to look at first. Use the biggest font for the most important info. Having a variety of sizes helps the most important info to jump out at the reader. Following this logic, your title would be the largest font. However, all design is not logical! Play around with sizes and have fun – don’t feel like you always have to follow the rules.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is fonts look different when they are enlarged or shrunken down. A helpful suggestion to follow is the smaller the font size, the simpler the font should be so that it is easier to read. Here is an example of how font sizes can dramatically affect the feeling and message of a design.
There are many beautiful, swirly fonts out there, but if it takes too long to read, your reader may lose interest and stop reading before the end of your message. In this example below, the font on the left is clear and easy to read. Your eyes move quickly over the words and you might even start singing to yourself as you read along! The font on the right is much more dense and is a little more challenging to read. You want people to get your message immediately, not make them work to figure outwhat you’re trying to say.
Extra Pro Tip: When Stressed, Take a Break
Choosing fonts can be challenging, but it’s also one of the most fun aspects of design! Don’t be afraid to follow templates, or borrow from designs that appeal to you. If you’re unsure about your font choices, you might want to try leaving your design for a few hours then come back to it with fresh eyes and pretend you are seeing it for the first time. Or, ask someone to take a look and give feedback.
Additional Tools and Resources
Imagine this scenario – you are scrolling through a list of fonts and you find the perfect one. You click on the link to download, and you are shocked to discover it will cost $100 to purchase. For those who create designs less frequently, you’re in luck. If you are an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber, you have access to a resource called TypeKit that holds over 1,000 fonts. Or, you can access websites that offer free variations of popular, more expensive fonts, such as Font Squirrel.
For those who’d like to explore this topic further, an excellent free resource is Canva’s Design School: https://designschool.canva.com/tutorials/choosing-right-fonts/