A Beginners’ Guide To Choosing Fonts & Typography

Choosing a font is an incredibly important aspect to consider, right since the design’s inception. Many designers worry about the more fancy aspects of design, such as logos, icons, animations etc…, while neglecting the very basics. One of these fundamental aspects is being able to choose the right typeface, so that the overall design can have the maximum impact on customers, clients, or viewers.

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Picking out a font is actually important in any aspect of design work, whether you are working on an animation’s end-titles, a headline for a book, or an index page for a business website. Fonts are integral to design, and as such, it is important to know how they can attract (or detract, in the case of an unfortunate choice) potential viewers.

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In this article, we’ll look at the most common types available in your arsenal, and what each one is suited for. We’ll also look at how to choose from these fonts, so that your overall design looks both appealing, and professional. The post will only deal with fonts on your computer, not with traditional typography, as the latter would be too complex.

Type of Fonts

There are five common types of fonts, which are widely used for design purposes, such as a slogan on a website, or simply as fonts for written content. These are:

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Type, set

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Sans Serif – Often used for headers, sub-headings or main content in written text, they form the very basic font for designers and writers. Sans Serif is easy to read, and still widely used, not just in minimalist site designs. Mostly a curved font-design, with little flourish.

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Serif – Another staple of the typography world, used for much the same purposes as Sans Serif. It is wise to know about both font types, instead of looking for fancy typeset which are hard to comprehend.

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Slab Serifs – A rather blocky and heavy typeset, offering a medium ground between standard Serifs, and more ornated fonts. These can be quite angular, and writing or logos can be difficult to comprehend. They are mostly used for impact in big brochures, ads or more decorative design work.

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Decorative Fonts – These are ideal for a more artistic design, as they often feature flourishes, curves and embellishments. They are best used rarely, in order to have maximum impact and effect on an audience.

These form the very basis of any font you need. Next, we’ll look at what to choose depending on what you need.

Choosing the Right Font

Consider what your design lacks, or what your website could do with that it doesn’t already have. For instance, when you have a very basic logo, it is preferred to use an easy to read font for your catchphrase or slogan (assuming you need a message at all). Another example would be in a film’s end-credits; they need to be clear and easy to read, since they scroll up or down quite quickly.

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typography guideFor decorative purposes, you can use fonts like Grunge, Lobster, Alba or many more. Be aware of the specific needs of your design or text; if you are putting together a horror-themed site, for instance, a font like Trashed would be ideal, with its jagged angles and rough features.

As you can see, the most important thing is knowing how to realise your design vision. Taking a distanced look at your design requirements, or asking for advice, can help you determine exactly the kind of font required, whether it is Helvetica or Trebuchet.

We hope these tips help you in completing your design, by choosing the right font.David Malone is a blogger and typesetter at brighton printers dol. David enjoys printing and mechnical drawing when he is not out and about in the Sussex countryside. He can be followed on facebook here.