What if I told you that one of the most crucial aspects of marketing, design and branding is often times one of the most overlooked and neglected? Choosing standard typeface(s) for your company can be a difficult process that can easily become overwhelming if you’re unsure of where to start. How to decide which typeface is best for your company, and where should it be used? Should more than one typeface be used as part of your branding? Once you know more about typefaces in general, it’s easier to answer questions like these.
The Many Faces of Type
One of the most common and historical styles of lettering. It is widely accepted that serif fonts were developed in ancient Rome as a result of having words chiseled into stone. The “serifs” are the small projection on the ends of each letter. In the modern day, serif typefaces are considered the “go-to” style for lengthy body text, especially for printing purposes. It is believed that the serifs aid in the readability of words, as they act as little “bridges” from one letter to the next. On-screen, serif typefaces have been somewhat avoided due to the lower resolution in digital screens compared to printed copy. This lower resolution can cause the serifs to be less visible onscreen, so instead of helping your eye follow across the line of text, it actually creates more gaps between letters. As technology progresses, and screen resolution is skyrocketing, we’ve seen serifs pop up on websites much more frequently.
As you can see above, “Georgia” would be a breeze to read in large paragraphs, even on-screen.
Simply put, these are typefaces without the “serifs” on the ends of the letter strokes. Because of the simplicity of the letter shapes and crisp lines, these typefaces are highly visible on-screen and work great for websites, both on computer and on mobile devices. Sans-Serif typefaces can be seen as both headlines and body copy.
While “Myriad Pro” looks fantastic on the web, the lack of serifs may make it more tiring to read in written form.
Based on handwriting, script typefaces are made with very fluid forms. Casual scripts can resemble someone’s real handwriting, while some of the more formal script typefaces are more stylized and elegant. Script is highly unsuitable for body copy, but is more common for headlines or short segments of text.
There’s definitely a time and a place to use script typefaces. As shown in this example, “Vladmir Script” would look nice (in small amounts) on a formal invitation.
Probably the broadest category of typefaces. They can be a variety of the above styles, but are often much more abstract and have additional graphic qualities. Depending on the specific font family, this style typeface can be used in logos or headlines, but should almost never be used for body copy, as it can be difficult to read large amounts of text.
The headline on a Western themed birthday card would probably look nice in “Rosewood”, but can you imagine trying to read a large paragraph in this typeface? It would probably take a while and put unnecessary strain on your eyes.
Although there are a multitude of other typefaces (and sub-categories of each), these four are the most common and should give you a good reference point for how and when to use each type. In an upcoming blog post, we can begin putting typefaces together and talking about how they can be paired to increase contrast and visual interest.