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Quick Font Tips | Font No-No’s

We thought we would chime in on fonts and what is the appropriate amount of fonts per design.  There is no right and wrong in design per se, but there are definitely some practices that prove more effective in creating a cohesive, visually pleasing graphic.  There are two things to remember when choosing fonts for a design.  1. Fonts tell a story and 2. Fonts should compliment each other or contrast each other effectively depending on the goal.  It is easy to fall into hodgepodging fonts that don’t really mesh in the hopes of making it look “dynamic” but in these instances less is usually more.

  1. Don’t use more than four fonts in a publication and even then, less is more.  Note the word publication here.  By publication we mean something “wordy” such as a newsletter.  With displays and visual marketing related graphics we vote for even less fonts.  You can effectively use variations of a font and font family to create a fluid design.  Variations include size, bolds and italics.  Stacking bold and unbolded text of the same font can help lead the eye and emphasize what is important or first glance information vs. secondary details.
  2. Don’t use no-no fonts. That is, don’t use the fonts that have been overused such as Arial,Comic San Serif, or Times New Roman.  Arial is one of the most overused fonts on the block and offers a lot of variation in it’s font family but offers very little style or edge.  It is too distinctively “just” Arial.  Below are some great youtube videos playful pointing out the worst of the worst.  You may think Papyrus is pretty but it is SO dated and unprofessional.  Also, just because your computer defaults to Times New Roman doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.  We can’t honestly think of a time when it is a good idea unless it is the content of a book.  There isn’t anything stylish or aesthetically pleasing about it really.Check out this funny little number:[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y50Dmh3SWys[/youtube]This video makes suggestions for those font offenders that can’t resist the worst of the worst: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHSqBZNqPyQ[/youtube]
  3. To serif or not to serif.  Simple rule of thumb:  If your style and header or leading font looks “old school” or “old fashioned” use a serif font.  More than likely the old fashioned looking font is also a serif.  If you are trying to convey something modern, contemporary, or fresh go with san serif font for the leading text and stick with san serif font families for the rest.
  4. The “call to action”, “first text” or “leading text” should have the most dynamic font style.  This is the font that conveys your story and message.  it is what the viewer will see first so make it count!  No Pressure!  Secondary information, after thoughts, required information (such as contact info) should use a more basic font family selection.  Do not overwhelm the viewer with too many wild fonts.
  5. Don’t use the off the cuff fonts like Digital, Script or Broadway unless they truly, truly make sense and fit the story of your design and more importantly don’t mix them together.  Broadway is on our no-no list but maybe somewhere out there it makes sense.

The Beginners Guide to Pairing Fonts is one of our favorite articles about fonts that effectively breaks down the use of fonts and how to effectively choose font pairings and font families for the type of design or publication you are producing.

Become a Master Designer: Rule One: Limit Yours Fonts is another excellent read regarding font selection and composition.

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