Fun with Fonts
July 5, 2016
One of my favorite parts of design is selecting the perfect font for a particular piece. You may not realize it, but font selection is an art … there are general concepts and rules that designers follow to achieve the best possible look. We take into consideration a number of items:
- Who is the audience for this piece?
- Where will this design be used?
- How much space is available for the text?
- Is the font legible?
To help you better understand, below are some commonly used font-related terms and what they mean.
Font vs. Typeface
Though these terms can be used interchangeably, there is actually a difference. Typeface is the entire type family with a common design or style. Fonts are all the versions that create a typeface, such as condensed, bold, light, italic, and other variations.
Times New Roman is a typeface
Times New Roman Bold is a font
Serif vs. Sans Serif
Serif fonts have small lines at the end of characters. Typically used in larger text blocks and books, the lines guide the eye from letter to letter. An example of serif is Times New Roman.
Sans serif translates to “without serif”, meaning there are no lines on the characters. Sans serif fonts are typically used on websites since they’re easier to read on screen. Arial is an example of sans serif.
Other Font Terms
- Weight refers to the heaviness or thickness of the font – light, bold, condensed, and so on.
- Kerning is the horizontal space between letters. What seems like something so simple can actually take a long time to adjust. Try your hand at kerning: http://type.method.ac/
- Tracking creates consistency by adjusting the spacing across a block of text.
- Leading, or line height, is the distance between lines of text.
Designers may adjust the kerning, tracking, or leading to achieve a specific look or for artistic effect.
My Favorite Fonts
- Helvetica is a versatile sans serif that works for any type of body or headline text. It pairs nicely with more decorative fonts and has a variety of weights.
- Lavendaria and Shorelines Script are my current favorite script fonts. They give a nice pretty feel to any design.
My best pieces of advice to novice font users are:
- use crazy fonts sparingly
- when in doubt use Helvetica
- never, ever use Papyrus