Words swirl around us every day. So, what can designers do to make those words truly stand out from the crowd? Fonts! Intentionally choosing your fonts can make a huge impact not only on your design but on what your audience gets out of it. With the thousands of fonts out there, it can be overwhelming when taking the first step. To help, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing fonts, and how they can help you make a lasting impression on your audience.
Fonts that Fit the Mood
One thing to help you narrow your focus when selecting fonts is establishing the mood you want to relay. All fonts have a personality, you just need to choose the right one for the job, matching the personality of your message.
For example, if you are writing an editorial piece, your main goal is to inform, meaning you want it to come across professionally. In this instance, a serif font headline can elevate your piece by giving it some sophistication. Sans serif fonts, on the other hand, lend a more modern feel. Pairing serif headers with sans serif body copy helps your headlines pop—even when you are using basic, low energy fonts.
Choosing an accent font to help certain words or phrases stand out can be as simple as putting them in italics to add emphasis. If you want to add extra energy to your accent font, try out script or bold fonts to give those lines more personality.
Not all fonts are created equal. After deciding on the overall mood, you need to establish a hierarchy. This can be achieved by setting rules for your fonts and assigning them certain tasks. All pages have at least three: headers, subheaders, and body copy. With that, you can create a guide for the fonts that you decide to pick. Hierarchy also helps guide your audience by telling them exactly what to look at in a certain order.
Headers should be the largest font on the page and can also be the most energetic of all of your type. Their purpose is to be flashy and reel in your audience. They help establish the mood you want to relay and prepare the reader to learn more.
Subheaders can also have some flair but should be the midway point between your flashy header and your low-key body copy. Their purpose is to provide a little more information to really capture your audience so people are compelled to read more.
Lastly, your body copy. Now that your audience has been reeled in, it’s time to lay that information on them. You want this font to be easy-to-read and pleasant overall.
These rules can apply to more than just documents. This poster example demonstrates the hierarchy.
Header – “INSANE SPRING SALE”
This is the first thing your eye is drawn to. It tells the reader exactly what they need to know.
Sub header – “ALL ITEMS $20”
This provides a little more information to add to the header message.
Sub header 2 – “MARCH 28 TO 29”
This example has two subheaders that provide more information about the header message.
Body – “Visit us in stores or online at reallygreatsite.com”
This is the final piece of information for the viewer to act on. It is the last call-to-action.
Like people, fonts can be introverted or extroverted. And as the saying goes, opposites attract. Pairing complementary fonts helps prevent visual overload and creates interest. Two extroverted fonts can come across as busy and can be hard to read. Two introverted fonts can work together but can come across as simple and unenergetic. Again, this could still work depending on the context.
Combining extrovert and introvert fonts is a fun way to play with fonts and create interest in the words you use.
Lastly, contrast. This refers to the visual “weight” that fonts carry. This can also help give the eye a visual experience and also create interest.
Like pairing introverted and extroverted fonts, weight can also give certain words more importance or create a hierarchy for the viewer to follow.
Now, it’s your turn! Play around with the thousands of fonts out there and see how fonts really can elevate your design.