In the digital age, nearly everyone who works on a computer will encounter a time when they have to choose fonts. Whether it is just for a company letter, Powerpoint presentation, website, or a design piece, you’ll be faced with a typographic decision. We’re here to help you make that choice! Follow the steps below to make your typography choices functional, aesthetic, and sophisticated.
1. Family First!
When in doubt, a great rule of thumb is to choose a font family (a typeface with multiple weights and styles), and stick to that. Vary the weights, sizes, and styles to create hierarchy.
2. Opposites Attract
When done correctly, pairing two fonts with different styles can create beautiful contrast and give a clear distinction to your type. Pair opposite styles, like serif and sans-serif, script and slab-serif, heavy and light.
3. Keep Your Distance
When pairing fonts, it’s important to make sure that you aren’t using two fonts that are close in appearance or style. Make sure they are clearly distinguishable (except when using the same font family for all type), otherwise pairing fonts that are too similar can create discord in your design, or look like a mistake.
4. Content Is King
Always be thinking about your content when choosing a font to represent it. It wouldn’t make sense (and in most cases, would look strange), to use a modernist type like Helvetica in a design or presentation about the Middle Ages, or a playful handwritten font for a funeral program.
5. Watch Your Temper
As in most aspects of life, mood is very important to typography. Mixing fonts of different moods can create unwanted tension in your design, and create confusion for the viewer.
6. Keep It Simple
You have likely heard this rule before, but that’s only because it’s a good one! Keep the different fonts used in one piece to a minimum. Having too many different typefaces in one place can appear jumbled, confused, and muddy.
7. “It’s more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules…”
Once you know the rules…break ’em! Some of the most intriguing designs, both in the past and today, are created by breaking one, some, or all of the rules listed above. However, it is very important to master the basics before you dive into rule-breaking, however exciting it may seem.