In Part 1 of our three-part typography series, I discussed some of the basics behind typefaces and fonts—what they are, which ones make up the main categories, how they can convey a message, why they matter and how to value them.
Today, in Part 2, I dive in a little deeper and answer how you can actually go about choosing the right typeface and font without feeling overwhelmed. I promise, there’s no need to sweat it—with a little guidance, you can really narrow down all the typefaces and fonts out there and feel confident in your decisions!
As you think about which typeface and font is best for your next project, brand or digital marketing campaign, remember you can come to better conclusions if you ask these four questions first:
1. Does this typeface offer a variety of styles and weights?
Having a variety of font choices within a typeface is the best thing you can do to set yourself up for a successful future. To understand why, think long-term.
Choosing a typeface that only includes regular, medium and bold only limits how you use it today, tomorrow and every day thereafter. If and when you need more options, this can be very frustrating.
Personally, when I am creating a brand image, I like to choose a typeface with multiple font choices. For instance, look at this typeface, Open Sans:
This typeface has 11 font choices with a variety of weights. The more options I have to visually make my message clear, the better positioned I am for current and future successes within this established design choice. This is critical when you weigh the value of brand identity. Keep in mind: it’s not best practice to use more than three font choices in any given composition. Use all your font choices wisely and with purpose.
Font Tip: Remember, the more fonts you use, the longer the load time will be for your website. To know best, talk to a developer to see what will best serve your needs.
2. What is this font visually communicating?
In my last post, Fonts Speak Louder Than Words, I talk a little about visual communication. This is important to think about as you pick a font or typeface.
Ask yourself: what this font is saying to you? What kind of character does it have? Is it playful, serious, trendy, silly? Ask yourself what it’s illustrating and see if it lines up with your vision.
I usually like a font that is simple and clean—one that’s not a distraction, but not void of character either. It has to be a complement to the brand it’s representing. Does it carry and help communicate the brand’s message? If so, you’ve got question two in the bag!
Font Tip: You don’t always need to go literal with your fonts. I’ve seen it many times on cheap posters and careless announcement banners. For instance, if you are creating a pamphlet for a summer camp or an outdoors-themed event, it doesn’t mean you use a font that looks like it’s made from twigs—unless it’s done with style and purpose.