Whenever I see a font I really like, I like to buy it (or if it comes in a bundle, I get the whole bundle). My favorites are script fonts – they just look so pretty, like someone wrote directly onto the computer and I’m using their handwriting to make designs.
…Well, I learned some things about fonts and typography that I feel I should give you a head’s up about:
1. If you’re using more than one font, make sure you choose complementary fonts. There are some fonts that come already matched up (e.g. Northern Lights, one of my favorites) – by matched up, I mean it has one script font and a sans serif font. These “font families” are already set for you to use. However, there are other fonts (like Echo Soul) that do not come with a second font attached.
I’m using script fonts as an example, because chances are you will come across scripts more often than you realize: business cards, wedding invitations and cards, holiday cards, books and publishing, and packaging are just a few instances. While the descriptive fonts will catch your eye and set the mood for your design, it is important that you follow with another font that is not a script or decorative font. Using two script fonts makes it hard for someone to read what you are writing. If you can’t keep yourself from using two or more decorative fonts, then just don’t use scripts at all. A simple sans serif font, like Arial or Century Gothic or Candara, pairs well enough with a script font.
Why this matters: the script/decorative font will catch the audience’s eye, and will no doubt impress them. But once you let them know this is a business card or a wedding invitation, give them the rest of the information in a font that is easier to read. Sans serifs are meant for easy reading, and will make your audience work less to understand what you are trying to say.
2. If you’re using only one font, choose something that is pretty yet legible. You can still use a script font, but choose one without a lot of loops or swirls or other fancy additions. A good example would be Beautiful Day.
Yet, I would recommend a pretty serif or sans serif font, like Rum Raisin, Valentina, or Crispin. These are very easy to read, but also have fun quirks to them (Valentina has some cool ligatures to check out and make any article or book chapter fun to read).
Why this matters: you only get one chance at a first impression, and if you choose to use only one font, it is important to make yourself distinct from other brands, cards, or products with a pretty, quirky, or unusual font.
3. Find the font (or fonts) that best convey the feeling, emotion, or thought you are trying to share. Like I mentioned in my very first blog post, each font has its own personality, and it is important to find the right font for your project. Are you looking for a font that can be read from far away, like on a sign? Is your sign for a bakery or a confectioner’s shop? Choose a quirky, sans serif font that reminds you of food, such as Allspice. Do you want a lovely script font for a romantic wedding? November Starlight has a dreamy aura that is perfect for invitations.
Before you use a font, ask yourself what kind of project you are working on, and what are three words that describe what you want people to think or feel about your design: is your project fun, flirty, pretty? Sweet, exotic, vernal? Keep your three words in mind as you search for fonts, and make up a list of different fonts you like that you feel represent your design.
Why this matters: several different fonts look very similar, but vary enough to communicate different things. Whether you are choosing one or two fonts, it is important that they not only look good together, but that they both represent the feeling of the design.
In conclusion, there are many fonts out there to buy and use, but don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed by the many choices. Instead, just think of what your project is, what you want to say, and then narrow down your search from that. A lot of the font selection process is trial and error, but ultimately it comes down to your intuition. If you think a particular font works best for your project, then go for it!