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  • Writer's pictureSimone Arthur

Fontphobic - No more!

I don’t always have to pick my own font, but when I do, I spend hours searching the drop-down menu until I give up and just go with Times New Roman.

If you're like me, you’ve realized that you’ve been unwittingly living life as a fontphobic creator. Sure, you know the basic anatomy of typography. Orphans, rivers, kerning, leading, and all that jazz. Right? (If not, please Google it before you embarrass yourself.)

Even if you know the basics of typography, the sheer number of fonts available can be overwhelming. It feels like when a waiter hands you a 50-page menu. Your heart sinks, you have no idea where to start, and you already know you’re going to order the wrong thing because there are too many choices.

Of course, no one's going to give you a gold star, or even notice if you choose the perfect font. But choose the wrong font, and everyone's looking at you like you showed up in a clown costume to a black tie occasion. Except your clown costume is Comic Sans and the other guests' formal wear is Garamond. Yeah, not a good look.

How To Pick the Right Font

So how do you pick the right font?

If the project you are working on already has a style guide, you have nothing to worry about. Just use that! But life's not always so simple. Sometimes you will have to choose your own font. Eek! But don’t panic! Developing your own typography design process is easier than you think.

Step 1: Find a Font Family

The first step is identifying the right font family for your project. I like to think of a word or phrase that matches the personality of the project I’m working on and then write those words out using the different font families (old style, transitional, modern, slab serif, sans serif, decorative, or script-cursive). Once the font and the words match the personality, I know I’ve found the perfect font family.

Step 2: Pick the Perfect Font

The next step is selecting the actual font. Consider your target audience and the context of your text. What font will make your text easy for your audience to read and digest? Consider their age, education, cultural backgrounds, socio-economic status, and other characteristics when identifying fonts that might appeal to them. Is the font for a title or the body of a long article? Do people need to read it quickly? Are they reading for pleasure or necessity? Choose 3-5 words that characterize your audience and write those words out using different fonts from the font family you chose in the first step. A strong font selection will match both your message and your audience, creating effective typography that enhances your design project.

Get Familiar With Your Fonts

The more you look at fonts, the easier it will be to identify font families and their characteristics. It's like developing a taste for wine – the more you drink, the more you appreciate the subtle differences between them. And if you're still using the font drop-down menu in your application to view fonts, stop! There’s a better way. You can’t see or understand fonts correctly from a drop-down list. Instead, go to Google Fonts, Adobe Fonts, or any other font library and start looking at fonts as an art form. Visit sites like Typewolf and Fontstand and read the reviews of font critics. (Yes, there are font critics!)

Selecting the right font can seem like an intimidating task. But by understanding the basics of typography, developing a personal design process, and considering the artistry of fonts, you can make informed choices that enhance your design projects.


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