How to Choose the Right Fonts for Your Graphic Design Projects

How to Choose Fonts and Type for Graphic Design Layouts
Photograph by Stephen Coles

How to Choose the Right Fonts for Your Graphic Design Projects

By Lois Knight

Feminine, masculine, serif, san serif, Script, Block, or one of the many custom type sets out there! It is enough to drive the sanest of graphic designers bonkers! Where do you look and how do you choose from the multitude of options available today? Depending on the font you decide to include, the context of the message can be changed in the wink of an eye. Look at a cocoa cola logo. This is a flowing almost feminine script font, belaying the message to quench your thirst. The fluid motion of the letters simulates the movement of the soft drink.

Coca Cola Logo

The use of letters or writing in the formulation of logos tends to lean toward more clearly written fonts such as Arial or even Myriad. These tend to be more legible to most viewers and easily recognizable across a wide range of demographic age groups. It is for this reason many businesses choose this style of identification.

The use of simple block text in Titles as well as logos and body text are easier to see, easier to read and easier to remember. In the case of football teams and logos, the use of a heavier block print or a bold san serif type tends to conjure thoughts of masculinity and stability. Take a look at the second image here. The use of a heavy san serif font coupled with a bold background creates eye movement. It’s in your face, bold, blocky and gives the appearance of action. While the first image using a similar type face offers a more sedate but solid image portrayal.

Fonts in Logos

Another important aspect to your design is your body text. Many times the message is carried over into a paragraph or maybe several paragraphs of body text. If no preference is given to this area, it defaults to Times New Roman. The text is easy to read, can be italicized or made bold as needed in the flip of a menu key, but it has a reputation of being worn out. And if you are working on a fairly large layout and use Times New Roman, your print shop will probably call you to verify that is indeed the font you wished to use. This is what is substituted for text fonts that can not be found when your layout is packaged. Bottom line is find a similar font or use Arial to maintain the readability of your message but doesn’t detract from the original splash of the piece.

Another issue to keep in the back of your mind when working with font selection is the age of your demographic group. You may be more inclined to stay with the basic clear cut type such as

Cenury Schoolbook Font

for an older more mature crowd. While you may decide on something like

Curly MT or Chiller Fonts

for a teen age demographic group.

The size of the font also plays into this scenario. As we grow older, our eyes don’t see as clearly as they used to and many of us have been introduced to bifocals or trifocals. Though laser surgery is a growing trend there will always be those that work with what we were given. So you need to be aware and plan for this inevitable fact of life. The most comfortable size print is 11. However, this changes for some of us as we grow older. Depending on the font used, I now need a larger size type sometimes, like a 12 or 14.

This is a size 8 Arial font and though this is perfectly readable, it may not be a good choice for all age groups.

This is a size 8 Curly MT font. As you can see it is much more difficult to read and probably should be larger.

This is a size 10 Arial font and though this is perfectly readable, it may not be a good choice for all age groups.

This is a size 10 Curly MT font. As you can see it is much more difficult to read and probably should be larger.

This is a size 12 Arial font and though this is perfectly readable. At this size it is clear and easy to read for most audiences.

This is a size 12 Curly MT font. As you can see it is much more difficult to read and probably should be larger.

The color of your text clearly makes a statement too. Take the Coke logo for instance. The creators of this logo wanted it to stand out in a crowd. And there are few products that can compete with the Coca Cola legacy. They have epitomized their message in two tiny well thought out words. The message of fluidity as well as dominance is as clear as a bell. Can you see it?

Coca Cola Logo

Make sure you are asking the right questions when you have your initial meeting. The concepts and target audience are pointed out at this first meeting and careful attention needs to be paid to the answers to the questions you are asking here. If you are unsure of the demographics of your project, you have not asked enough questions or you have not asked the right questions to begin with. Most businesses will offer their concepts and already have a clear picture of who they want you to reach with their message. Fine tune this information with identifying questions concerning age groups, income levels, religion, family size, and other possible options available. Sometimes, you will have concepts that need to cross the generation or gender gap. Your choice of fonts and colors will strongly affect how the message is received by different groups. Have you chosen a more masculine type font that is big and blocky, or is it more fluid and frilly? Did you choose lavender or maroon? Think about what you are trying to say and WHO you are saying it to, then choose three or four of your favorites and try them out!

[tags]typography, type, fonts, font, choosing fonts, choose fonts, choosing type, graphic design, design, how to choose fonts, how to choose type, design and fonts, design and type[/tags]

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  1. temitayo
    Posted April 24, 2008 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Great. i’m a young graphic designer willing to grow to the apex. i’ll appreciate if more articles or website can be reached to get more info. once again great.

  2. temitayo
    Posted April 24, 2008 at 11:42 am | Permalink


  3. renny
    Posted April 28, 2008 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    very usefull article, thanks.

  4. Lil'Messi
    Posted May 15, 2008 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Very good… Very Uusefull For a 13 year designer…

  5. Posted May 27, 2008 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    As a young Art Director working with a media outfit i must commend you guys for this Article cos its been a great help.Keep it up.

  6. dotun nuovo media
    Posted July 12, 2008 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    its okay, but is a lot of theory, i actually thought I would see a more practical use of fonts to drive home the point.

  7. anukriti
    Posted July 22, 2008 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    great !!!

  8. Maddy
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    okay so i am a young fashion designer. im trying to come up witha logo for my company, but im stuck. Any advice?

  9. Calvin
    Posted August 6, 2009 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    a few days ago i learned that the cocoa cola font is actually commonly used in the 1960s but now,we make it quicker and faster,though i thought that the cocoa cola font looks nice,so i searched how to make that font but i cannot find it. I’m 13 years old andgoing to highschool so im not a fashion designer of any kind.=P

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