Today friends, we’re talking about typography. There are too many great fonts out there to count and if you’re like me, you’ve got dozens upon dozens of awesome fonts stashed on your computer ready to go for that perfect project. (If you want a quick tip on how to find the right font in your incredibly large stash you can check out this post – it’s a resource I use multiple times a day.)But just having a million fonts doesn’t mean that you’re work will be awesome when it comes to typography. You have to know how to make those fonts work for you.
So here are 3 tried and true rules for picking the perfect font – they’ll never fail you, promise.
1. Pick the Right Font – one that really works for the project.
It’s not enough to just use that trendy font, or type of font that seems to be everywhere or to constantly use that favorite font you just can’t get enough of. Those fonts are awesome, yes. But the right font is the one that’s going to do the best job portraying the message.
We’re talking a font that’s going to be a clear communicator for the specific message you’re trying to send.
When you’re selecting a font for a project, you should take the existing brand into consideration. If you’re creating a new art print, think about the styling of the piece. Pick a font that contributes to the design – making sure it’s saying the same thing as the words that it’s displaying.
Here’s an example.
The words are the same , but the top line gives the impression that the BBQ might have an Art Deco theme. Its not wrong per se (art very rarely is) but the stronger presentation is the bottom line. The font actually depicts a old Western feel and is reminiscent of the writing one might see on a wanted poster in the Wild West or used as a brand for cattle. Now it’s your turn – consider each pairing below, pick the stronger font choice, and outline the reasons why.
2. Use only 2 fonts per project.
I can hear the lovers of all that subway art silently screaming at me. But here’s the truth. If you look at the authentic subway art, you’re really only going to see 1 font. Using 2 fonts per project is one of the standard rules of great design. Too many fonts makes it difficult to communicate effectively because it distracts the reader from what’s really important.
Here is an example.
Same words, same design. But here’s the thing – you probably spent a few more mili-seconds reading the second one with all the fonts. And here’s the clincher. The phrase “faith, family, and football” portrays the idea that those 3 things bring unity. And the more unified design is the one that uses fewer fonts.
On a side note, if your design is really awesome it won’t need all those fancy fonts. Good design can stand on its own.
3. Follow the rules of font hierarchy.
There are probably a few of you that are silently bothered (or enraged) by #2. But from a communication stand point, you’re probably using a variety of different fonts to add emphasis and make certain smaller messages stand out from the rest right?
Emphasis and hierarchy go together, but instead of complicating the message with several fonts, hierarchy allows you to add emphasis by doing one of the following:
- Size (the easiest way to add visual contrast)
- Weight (many fonts have a variety of weights; but if your particular font doesn’t, just make some portions bold)
- Color (typically cool colors recede and warm colors pop)
- Position (columns, and not always equal ones – i.e. 1/3 paired with 2/3)
- Type Contrast – think font pairing (i.e. a serif paired with a san serif)
Which one of these rules do you follow? Which one do you need some practice on? I’d love to see what designs you’re working on and how you’re using typography to communicate.