3 Tips for Finding the Perfect Font for Your Project

The fonts you use can have a surprising impact on how your designs are perceived. The font or typeface can affect how often your content is read and how well the message is absorbed. This means font matters in ways far beyond the way it fits into the overall aesthetics of the surrounding layout. Here are three tips for finding the perfect font for your project.

Simple Is Safe

Every graphic designer and website designer has a few outlandish typefaces they use on special occasions. However, 90% or more of the time, they’ll use what are called “safe” typefaces. These are simple fonts that are clear and legible so that they’re always easy to read. They are something that everyone can quickly read, so your message will always be absorbed. If you use a funky font that they have to figure out, you’ll likely lose your audience. This is why Open Sans gets used on presentations but funny and fancy fonts typically don’t.

Safe sans-serif fonts include Arial, Tahoma, and Helvetica. Safe serif fonts include Times New Roman and Palantino. All of these fonts are appropriate for any application since they display on the web with few to no issues.

Consider the Mood and the Purpose

If you put a funny font on a sign in a children’s play area, it fits the mood. However, if you tried to deliver a professional presentation with the same silly font, people will question your judgment. If you’re trying to convey a traditional, respectable vibe, go for an old-style typeface over a slick, modern one. When you’re sharing information, use a legible, formal typeface.

When you have the freedom to be whimsical or want to use a font to capture people’s attention, then you can choose something unusual. Some fonts like the Lobster Font aren’t for everyone but could work in some situations, so test it out to see what really works. Do experiment every once in a while, just to see if something is better than what you’re doing right now. Change up a headline or section break to see if it is actually an improvement.

Keep It Consistent

In general, you want to keep the same font across all of your content. However, you can use a new pictorial content to capture someone’s attention where warranted, just as you might inject a joke in your presentation to keep everyone alert and engaged. But never let the font upstage the actual content.

If you do choose multiple typefaces on the same page, make sure they have large, contrasting differences but can still look good together. Two slightly different fonts aren’t worth the effort, and you’d be better off choosing just one font for the whole page.

A general rule of thumb is to use fonts that have a similar X-height, stroke weight, time period or designer if you want to know they’ll look good when used together. That way there is a common look, though the fonts are different from each other. In short, the two fonts need to either contrast or correspond to look good together. Try using a pangram to evaluate how fonts look when combined on the same page before you throw the fonts together on a website or pamphlet.

The font you use can complement your webpage or printed flyer’s design, reinforce your intended message, and attract viewers or interfere with your end objectives. This makes finding the perfect font a necessity.

Featured image by Jeroen De Otter

Michael keeps himself busy by writing about design, arts, psychology, and how they intertwine. He grew up in a small town in Montana and now resides in Austin with his wife and dog, Bailey.