Tutorials / Print Design

Choosing the Font that Says What You Want

Lindsay on 2013-02-27

How much thought do you put into the font you use? If your answer is not much, think again. Just as different colors convey a variety of themes or emotions, fonts send a message to your audience. Whether you are working on your resume, your website, marketing collateral, or even - you guessed it - your business card, it's worth doing some research before choosing an appropriate font. Sound like something you would like to do but simply don't have time for? We had a feeling - so we did some legwork for you.

We've compiled research done by Reader's Digest, AOL, PR Daily, Smashing Magazine, and BBC News (who describe fonts as our handwriting of the modern age), and created this list of some commonly used fonts and their conveyed meanings:

Times New Roman - The traditional font for traditional business communications. TNR is seen as classic, stable, safe, mature, and practical. All that stability can also read as boring to some, so if you are looking to convey excitement or creativity, you might want to steer clear.

Arial - Another classic, conservative font, but Arial is also seen as modern, clean, and easy to read.

Helvetica - A universal font that is seen as clear, objective, and modern.

Courier - Courier looks like writing from a typewriter, so it conveys an old school vibe, romance, and possesses a journalistic quality.

Comic Sans - Comic Sans has a bad rap. Described as everything from "the wacky uncle of the font family" to the "laughing stock of the font world" (ouch!), most see this font as childlike, whimsical, and a bit too casual/unprofessional. Perhaps not the best choice for your press releases BUT if you have a business that caters to kids, comic sans could work well on your website or other marketing materials. This is the clearest example in our list of why you need to consider your audience before you select your font.

Impact - Good for attracting attention, but best used for headlines or highlighting as it can come across as overbearing when used for an entire piece.

Verdana - Verdana is a "Humanist" font, so it is derived from handwriting and conveys qualities that are modern, clean, and clear yet also human and empathetic.

We have just scratched the surface here with the most common fonts, but we hope you find this useful. The takeaway: Always consider your audience, and don't miss an opportunity to choose a font that strengthens your message.

Comments (1)

Susan Berman 2013-03-09

I am a lover of fonts and typography. The Art Deco ones are my favorites!! By the way, there is a documentary called, "Helvetica" and it is really interesting.

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