The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Typefaces, or fonts as they are more commonly known, have the power to make or break your design – be it for print or electronic media. Fonts can convey certain characteristics and even emotions. They can make the difference between your readers’ buy-in or aversion to your presentation, whatever your product.
Most typefaces can be classified into conservative and traditional; trendy and graphic; romantic and nostalgic; naive and playful; high-tech and futuristic; and many more.
Some of our personal favourites lean towards the traditional, which work well if you’re after a corporate or sophisticated feel. There are plenty of ‘good’ fonts to choose from, but keep in mind that not all of them will work in an electronic environment.
Clean classic typefaces like ‘Times’ are best for a copy-rich presentation. As the standard face for newspapers it is functional as well as being the most economical serif when it comes to copy fitting (the process that ensures a block of text isn’t too long or too short to fit the allotted space). Because of its long association with journalism, ‘Times’ is also a good choice when presenting factual material or when the copy needs to inspire confidence in the reader.
‘Optima’ is best described as a “serif-less” rather than sans serif face. It mixes well with virtually any face, and adds a sparkling fresh quality to a piece. Because it’s easily readable it can be used for long blocks of text if given ample white space.
Elegant graceful ‘Garamond’ has distinctive curved serifs and old style numerals. It’s an economical face, more condensed than ‘Centuryor’ or ‘Bodoni’, but still quite legible. ‘Garamond’ can create a classic timeless look or a very sophisticated one.
A delicate round sans serif ‘Futura’ can be classic or contemporary. ‘Futura’ has a wide range of weights that are very useful. All of the weights have excellent round proportions.
Stay away from ‘Comic Sans’ and ‘Brush Script’. Most designers will tell you this. In my opinion these fonts have been abused and over-used and now carry a very cheap and nasty connotation. It is as if the typesetter couldn’t be bothered to find a fun playful font so they use ‘Comic’ or ‘Brush’ instead of something more scripty or stylish.
There are many. We find the “download-for-free” fonts often only provide you with the basic styles offering no variations for font weight or italics. Be careful of using fonts with long ascenders and descenders like ‘Zapfino’ in paragraphs as these run over each other creating an unreadable mess in the process. Fonts that use graphics such as drops of blood or chains are great for your Halloween invitation but not appropriate for your webpage. If you do decide to go out on a limb in this regard you’re only going to be sending out the wrong kind of message.