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So many typefaces…which to use?

Understanding and being trained to use typography is something unique to the graphic design discipline. In many ways understanding the rules and functionality of typography is one of the few things that distinguishes graphic designers from fine artists. We are taught to use the written word; learning the nuts and bolts of fonts and spacing that are important to using typography effectively.

Beyond the rules and guidelines we also are taught about choosing typefaces and how these affect the messages we send and the ways we convey information. Selecting typefaces or fonts for projects is one aspect of typography that cannot be taught, there are few rules, but it involves intuition and in many ways comes with experience. Although selecting typefaces can be objective there are some general ground rules that we all follow, but even these are broken.

So how do you know how to choose 1 of thousands of fonts to use on any given project and know that it is the right one for your brand or message? Practice of course, but also intuition. Typefaces are like people they each have personalities and quirks, they all have something different to say and when your message and typeface’s voice align a very powerful association is made. In many ways the world a graphic design is their stage and typefaces are the actors who we direct as we see fit. For example you would never cast Kate Winslet to play Rambo or more subtly you wouldn’t want to cast Cameron Diaz to play Eleanor Roosevelt. With the plethora of fonts available today it is not quite as black and white, there are many typefaces featuring similar personalities that can be used interchangeably, but the ability to distinguish their subtle differences allows the user to harness even more of typography’s power. When using type it is important to think about this and always consider the message you are sending with the type you select or the voice you are giving to your words. Here are some movie quote examples:

This doesnt seem quite right….

But this is better, the words and style of type are better aligned.

Of course there are many other reasons to choose typefaces from their history, previous uses and type theories, but this at least illustrates the power of typography and its importance to bring your words to life. Remember not all fonts are created equal, there are always better choices to represent yourself and your brand or project, choose wisely.

J.L. Frazier said it best “Faces of type are like men’s faces. They have their own expression; their complexion and peculiar twists and turns of line identify them immediately to friends, to whom each is full of identity.”

Just for fun, here are dogs as type see what you think did they capture the personality and looks of these dogs with a typeface?

Dogs and Typefaces. Via SwissMiss

  1. So You Need a Typeface | Parascope: From the people of Parallax Visual Communication

    […] great infographic about choosing appropriate type. If you have already read our previous article about choosing typefaces, and still are unsure, here is a pretty bullet proof infographic by Julian Hansen that should help […]


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