Fonts make up nearly every type of graphics people see in daily life. If you drive down the road and view a billboard, the font used makes the sign easy to read and has an emotional impact. If you visit a website, the font used can convert you into a subscriber or entice you to buy an item. Different fonts appear on greeting cards, in magazines and online. We see fonts hundreds of times every day. Consider that a designer spent time choosing just the right one to create just the right impact.
Whether you’ve worked as a designer for many years or you’re an amateur, choosing the right font is never an easy task. The goal with this font series is to get up close and personal with some of today’s most popular options. Once you know a font, the ways it’s used and the emotions it evokes, it’s much easier to narrow your choice down to just one or two fonts for your project.
History of Fonts
The word font itself comes from the Middle French word “fonte” and means something melted, which refers back to a time when metal workers cast metal type at foundries. When printing presses came into being, a font referred to a complete set of type, including both upper and lower case letters. Today, we have digital typefaces, and the word encompasses more than just a single metal plate.
Serif and sans-serif fonts have been around for hundreds of years. While there are many more available today thanks to the advance of digital graphics, they still tend to fall within specific categories of design. Many of the more modern fonts were inspired by old typefaces and adapted for viewing on a screen instead of in print.
Typography and Fonts
Many people use the terms “font” and “typeface” interchangeably. However, typography is more of an artistic skill where you design letters to have a certain impact and leave an impression on the reader. Typography involves the hierarchy of a design and can include more than one type of font. Each font has a very specific personality and details that no other font matches exactly.
There are numerous types of fonts, but most fall into one of the following categories:
- Serif: Have feet at the end of letters or a little swirl detail.
- Sans-Serif: No feet at ends of letters. Letters are plain and blocky-looking.
- Script: Handwriting styles. These fonts look like written cursive. They have a traditional, old world feel.
- Decorative: Novelty fonts used to make an impact. A decorative font might include a letter with flames coming out of the top or polka dots inside a three-dimensional letter.
Thousands of different fonts are available to designers. More are added all the time, and you also have the option to hand-letter a font and come up with something truly unique. A simple search reveals thousands from which to choose. But we want to help you narrow down the choices to the best fonts out there.
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Fonts in Design Work
You could argue that the number of fonts is limitless. Some are used more frequently than others, such as Times New Roman. Times New Roman was the default font for many years in word processing programs. Many professors and editors over the years required submissions in TNR font because it was easy to measure the word count based on the size of the font in 12-point. There are a number of uses today for this popular font.
The font you choose says a lot about the project you’re working on. A more traditional font lends itself to a feeling of reliability and steadiness. A decorative font can send the message that your brand is young and innovative.
Even though the right font evokes a specific emotion, readability should always win over design. If the text isn’t readable on a small device as well as on a large one, it isn’t the right font.
Font Series Focus
The focus of this font series is on a variety of different styles. That way you can find something compatible with nearly any type of project.
Century Gothic is one example of a font we delve into, researching the history and the uses for this interesting font family. The font was released in 1991 based on a 20th-century drawing created sometime between 1936 and 1947. It’s best used for headlines and larger blocks of text. We delve into the various characteristics of this font that make it stand out, such as the thick, round dots over the letter “i” and the letter “j.” The font has a tall x-height, which is important if you need to fill a specific space with a taller font than normal.
On the other hand, Comic Sans may have gotten a bad rap over the years, but it does have potential for school flyers and education-related websites.
The Font Series:
Each chapter features a specific font and includes an in-depth look at each one. We’ll look at its origins, where it’s commonly found and discuss which types of work the font best works with. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to create your own font!
The Font Series Guide
Chapter 1: 15 Google Fonts You Should Be Using
Chapter 2: Times New Roman
Chapter 3: Roboto
Chapter 4: Georgia
Chapter 5: Verdana
Chapter 6: Helvetica
Chapter 7: Comic Sans
Chapter 8: Didot
Chapter 9: Arial
Chapter 10: Tahoma
Chapter 11: Garamond
Chapter 12: Century Gothic
Chapter 13: Brody
Chapter 14: Bromello
Chapter 15: Savoy
Chapter 16: Athene
Chapter 17: Calibri
Chapter 18: Proxima Nova
Have a favorite font you want to see in the guide? We’re always open to adding to the guide. Leave it in the comments below!
This article was originally published on 11/10/2017 and updated on 1/23/2019.