Finding the Right Font for Your Design: 6 Simple Tips

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One of the most difficult parts of graphic design is choosing the right font, because the wrong choice can ruin even the most beautiful visuals. This is why even the most experienced graphic designers are extra careful about this aspect.

Nevertheless, there are certain guidelines that can help point you in the right direction and make the task a little easier. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind:

Match the Emotion or Mood You’re Trying to Convey

One of the best things about graphic design is that it can inspire a wide array of emotions. Fonts can do the same thing, too, even if they’re “just” a set of stylised letters. Thus, it’s a good idea to start by going back to the purpose or goal of your design when you’re choosing a font.

Do you want to express seriousness or aggressiveness? Thick sans serif fonts can help communicate these. Do you want to exhibit playfulness and fun? Curly, chunky, or even uneven-looking fonts can help you achieve this goal. Do you want the design to be perceived as elegant? You can turn to delicate, flowing scripts for this purpose.

The target audience also matters a lot with regards to the font you’ll be choosing. For example, if you’re designing a toy box, your target market will be children. Though the parents may be the ones to ultimately buy the toy, you first have to appeal to the child to successfully start the purchase loop. 

Legibility Is Crucial

The key role of fonts in graphic design is to help communicate a clear message. This simply means that you need to choose one that’s legible in most situations. If people have to squint to read the words or confuse one letter for another, then you haven’t chosen an effective font.

One of the key things to remember about legibility is that simpler fonts will always be easier to read. Decorative fonts are okay for headlines since they’re usually bigger in size. For general usage, however, you need something that’s easier to read.

For logos, website fonts, and other materials that will eventually make their way onto smaller screens, readability is even more crucial, especially since so many people access the internet through smaller screens on their mobile phone tablets. 

Consider Where It Will Be Used

Versatility is another good criteria when choosing a font, especially if you’re doing copy-heavy or text-based layouts. Think about the setting in which the design will be used. Will it be placed on a billboard? Will it be an accompanying photo for a social media post? Will it be printed on an A3 poster? All of the above? These considerations will help you determine not only which fonts to use but also how to lay them out more effectively.

It’s also a good idea to experiment a bit with the style. Try the font in bold, play with the kerning and leading, or perhaps make the text curve into a half-circle. If it still looks good, then you’ve found yourself a winner.

Don’t Use Too Many

Using just one font is perfectly fine if you’re writing a research paper. In graphic design, however, using one font can be rather boring in certain situations. Thus, you should aim for a little variety.

This doesn’t mean that you should get too trigger-happy in choosing fonts, though. Using more than three can be overwhelming and make your design look cluttered and uncoordinated.

In fact, there are times when you don’t even have to use a different font. Try changing the size or the thickness of the letters first. You might realise that using one font in different styles is the most effective solution for your design needs.

Think Harmonious Contrast

If you end up deciding on two or three fonts, they should have harmonious contrast. This simply means that each font should look distinct enough from each other, but not to the point that they’re clashing.

The simplest technique here is to choose one serif and one sans serif font. Then, decide which one would be the more prominent font. When it comes to newspapers, for example, choose which font you’ll be using for the headline—it should be something that’s in harmony with the rest of the article.

Consider Copyrights and Licences.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, check the font’s licencing. Some are free to download but are only allowed for personal use. If you’re planning to use the designs for commercial purposes, you should choose fonts that don’t infringe on any copyrights.

This is particularly true for logos. While typefaces in general aren’t copyrighted, different fonts usually have different licencing rules or inclusions, particularly for commercial use. This is why some graphic designers charge their clients for the price of the font.

You might think that a font is just what a set of letters looks like, but it can truly spell the difference between an iconic and a disastrous design choice. Hopefully, the above tips can help you make the right decision.