…so I was speaking with a friend who actually reads my blog (and there are a few…!) and she mentioned that she found the post I did a while back on fonts and typefaces helpful! I thought of it more as a “what is coming out of my brain at the time” and didn’t think of the insights as particularly original or profound. The typography industry is HUGE and there are many, many experts who spend their lives immersed in the thickness of lines or the radius of a curve, and so there is a literal cornucopia of references out there already.
However, once she said that, I realized that, for the 98% of the people who don’t have to normally think about typefaces or fonts for most of their life, that perhaps what I had to say could actually be useful!
So this post will be more of a reference for those of you who find yourself tasked:
- with creating a report for work, or
- having to create a newsletter template for the group you volunteer with, or
- your child’s birthday invitation
I’ll assume you are using Word or Publisher, and that eventually you will either create a picture or pdf to distribution your masterpiece. This isn’t the standard workflow of a graphic designer, or anyone in the industry, but then again, I’m not creating this post for those already in the know 🙂
It’s tempting to use as many fonts as you have available to you. It really is, and I get that. However, to keep the reader from getting too confused by the choas that creates, might I suggest just picking one to two font families MAXIMUM. Within those families, you can switch between italics, bold, small caps, or whatever to get your visual variation. In this way things will look intentional and tied-together, but will allow you to emphasize whatever requires emphasis.
Which two families? Well, normally I strike for a nice contrast between a serif font (i.e. the kinds that have little “feets” or “ends” on each letter) vs sans-serif (i.e. one that doesn’t have those). A serif font you would recognize is Georgia, or Times New Roman, and a sans-serif would be Helvetica, or Arial. Or, why am I bothering to try and explain it when it’s described very well over here.
Here’s a reference I pinned a while back and still use for some websites; it can also be applied to written documents. These are fonts you likely already have on your computer which is why this reference is so useful.
What if you’re really not digging the fonts that already installed on your computer?
There are literally millions of sites that sell fonts; I tend to use the following for purchase myself:
for more playful projects, or ones that really need some personality, I would go straight here for the latest and greatest in handwritten, scripty stuff. https://creativemarket.com/fonts
Google Fonts is a resource I use to access great typography for my web design, however many of these fonts are also available for download on the originator’s site. This isn’t true for all fonts, but I do have a link to Open Sans, a popular sans-serif you’ll see on many sites. Technically this font was designed primarily for screen legibility, i.e. not print, but I find it can fit the bill quite nicely in some cases.
*WARNING* there are ALOT of sites that promise free fonts but are fairly virus-ridden. Be really, really careful if you try to use a site that hosts free fonts.
That being said, there is a great designer out there who spends his life thinking about design from a typography point of view. He might be a little over your head, but his site is beautiful to look at anyway. Head over to his site to see his suggestions. Or sign up for his newsletter to get tips on the where to score some quality free fonts.
Now what? How do I use that font I just bought?
Once you’ve downloaded your zipped file, unzip the folder and then extract the .ttf of .otf file. Then check out this site for how to install it.
I think I’ll stop there. I can go on and on about fonts (but my husband would just roll his eyes and walk out of the room) so I’ll hold off for another post…