Typography. Choosing the Right Fonts.

Why is typography important?

Font selection is important because it's an unconscious persuader. Fonts attract attention, set the style and tone of a design, impact how readers interpret the words, and create the feeling of the document–usually without the reader recognizing a particular typeface.

TYPE IS PERSONALITY. By change your typeface you can go from silly to serious, casual to formal, or old fashioned to modern.

TYPE IS IMAGE. You'd dress your best if you were going to an important meeting, and your documents need to be well-dressed, too. Type can establish your image as a company. If you use it consistently enough, people will start to associate your image with certain typeface, and therefore have a certain impression of you. They might find themselves thinking of you when they see that typeface, without knowing why.

TYPE IS POWERFUL. Type has an effect on you even if you don't consciously notice it. You can use this power to your advantage to attract attention, strengthen your message, and improve your image, or you can overlook it and work against yourself saying one message with your text while conveying another with your font.

TYPE IS COMMUNICATION. Communication means relaying information about our logic and emotions to others. The better you learn to communicate, the better others will know you, and the better you'll know yourself because logic, emotion, and about 98-percent water are what you're made of.

TYPE IS IMPORTANT. The right typeface can encourage people to read your message. The wrong typeface or bad typography can turn-off your readers, and let your message go unread.

How do you know what type to use?

Type selection doesn't have to be intimidating. You've been looking at type for years, been reading it since you were a kid. It's obvious when it's hard to read.

For the most part, typography is common sense. However, there rules to selecting and using type. I know you may hate rules, but they are rules for a reason- they work! Here is what to keep in mind when selecting fonts for your designs and documents.

One: Type should serve the text and make it easy to read. Type should not overpower the text.

Type can be beautiful and decorative–but if type calls undue attention to itself or makes it more difficult to read the text–then it becomes distracting. Of course, some people will love this and tell you how brilliant you are–but they won't read the text. So what's the point?

Two: There are no good and bad typefaces, there are appropriate and inappropriate typefaces. Think about your reader and the feeling you want to convey, then choose a typeface that fits.

What things to consider when using fonts?

Legibility. Certain fonts are more legible than others.

Copyright. Many fonts require you to purchase a license to use them.

Web Friendly. Keep in mind that there are only a handful of web friendly fonts. If you use an unusal font on your website you run the risk that it will default on a computer that does not have the font installed.

Font Terminology:

Leading: Line space. Refers to the distance between the baselines of successive lines of type. Having lines of type too close together makes it difficult to read.

Kerning: Space between certain letters.

Tracking: Amount of horizontal space between characters.

Different types of fonts. Serif have the little tails at the end, like Times New Roman. San-serif fonts do not have the tails, like Arial.

There are different fonts that work best for headlines (Poster), promotions.

What are the guidelines for choosing the right fonts?

Keep it Simple

Keep your document simple by only using two or three font choices. Using too many different fonts make documents look unprofessional. You can always break things up by changing the size, weight (bold, normal, light), or color of a font.

Guidelines for Headlines

  1. Use contrasting font styles for headlines. While readability is still important, there is more leeway for using fun or decorative typefaces in headlines. Serif body copy and sans serif headlines provide good contrast. Avoid using headline and body copy fonts that are too similiar in style, such as two different serif or sans serif fonts.
  2. Match headline fonts to tone of document. Choose a font for headlines that is appropriate to the tone and purpose of your publication. Does the font say fun or serious to you?
  3. Use bold headline fonts to add contrast. If using the same font for body copy and headlines, create contrast by setting headlines bolder and much larger than body text.
  4. Make headlines a different color than other text. Use color in the headline to create contrast but make sure there is enough contrast not only between the headline and the body text but also between the headline color and the background.
  5. Make headlines larger than body copy. Display and headline fonts are more readable at larger sizes than body copy fonts. For extremely decorative or elaborate fonts use even larger display sizes of 32 points or more in headlines. Create a headline hierarchy with headline fonts that look good in multiple sizes.
  6. Set all caps headlines in sans serif fonts. Serif, scripts, and elaborate decorative fonts are much harder to read set in all caps. For headlines set in all caps, stick with sans serif fonts.
  7. Kern your headlines. Adjust the spacing of type set at display sizes to eliminate distracting gaps between certain pairs of letters. Gaps in headlines stand out like sore thumbs.


  1. Don't let headlines be squished. If you don't want to spend time kerning your headlines, try fonts that have better letter spacing and don't need kerning.
  2. Use headline fonts consistently. Try to use the same headline fonts throughout a publication, using variations consistently as well — such as one style for major stories, another for secondary or sidebar articles.

Specific Guidelines for Body Text

  1. Body text should be between 10 and 12 point, with 11 point generally best for printing. Use the same typeface, typesize, and leading for all your body copy.
  2. Use enough leading (or line-spacing). Always add at least 1 or 2 points to the type size. Example: If you're using 10 point type, use 12 point leading. Automatic line height will do this for you. If you use less than this your text will be cramped and difficult to read.
  3. Don't make your lines too short or too long. Optimum length between 30 and 70 characters.
  4. Make paragraph beginnings clear. Use either an indent or block style for paragraphs. Don't use both.
  5. Use only one space after a period, not two.
  6. Don't justify text unless you have to. If you justify text you must use hyphenation.
  7. Use italics instead of underlines.
  8. Don't set long blocks of text in italics, bold, or all caps because they're harder to read.
  9. Leave more space above headlines and subheads than below them, and avoid setting them in all caps. Use subheads liberally to help readers find what they're looking for.