Four Steps to Choosing the Best Fonts for your Design Project

Understanding Fonts

“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog”

Have you ever wondered why this phrase shows up when you’re exploring fonts?

It’s really simple – it is a Pangram, a sentence or verse that contains all the letters of the alphabet. Using this sentence gives you a complete example of the font.

I love research, so I dug a little deeper and discovered this particular phrase has been used since the late 19th century as a tool for teaching handwriting, typing and Western Union Telegraphs. My favorite bit of trivia is this – the first message sent on the Moscow–Washington hotline on August 30, 1963 was the test phrase “THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPED OVER THE LAZY DOG’S BACK 1234567890”. Later, during testing, the Russian translators sent a message asking their American counterparts “What does it mean when your people say ‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog?’”

Too bad this viral video wasn’t available then to send to the Russians!
Pangrams

Thankfully the font houses today offer us many options for Pangrams. You can even catch up on the news while you search for that special script font you need!

So what are my rules for choosing fonts?

1. PURCHASE YOUR FONTS

Do not use free fonts unless they are from reputable font houses*.

I know you don’t like to hear this and I know fonts are expensive, but trust me you don’t have time for spyware, malware and garbage!

This article on Trillion explains even more dangers of using free fonts.

*If you want to save money on fonts – check out myfonts.com for their special offers and bundles, they have amazing discounts and sales!

2. PAIR YOUR FONTS WELL

It’s important to train your eye to find two or three fonts what work well together. Using San Serif with Serif fonts, heavier fonts with light weights, etc. There is a great infographic here that has some great tips and even a list of fonts to NEVER USE – like Comic Sans!

3. FIND FONTS WITH AS MANY EXTRAS AS POSSIBLE

…for the best creative options –

Use fonts that have full subsets, symbols, characters, and ligatures – the price might be a little higher, but the value is so worth it! These are some great examples of Fonts that offer the full range of options. If you want to save money just buy one or two of the sets for now and add more later. Here are some great examples:

FAIRWATER – Laura Worthington

AmberlyAMBERLY – Dear Type

Nexa Rust fonts

NEXA-RUST – FontFabric

4. UNDERSTAND WEB FONTS

It took me awhile to wrap my head around the fact that designing for the web has its limitations as far as typography. As a print designer that moved to web, I found it frustrating that I couldn’t just use the same fonts for print and web.

Here’s why – The fonts have to be added to the CSS which makes the file larger, which then slows down the load time of your pages, which then makes the user twiddle their thumbs as the page just sits there loading – get the picture?

There are webfonts, which are built to be smaller and save space, so whenever I’m designing a website – I start here at the Google Font Library.

If you’re really interested in understanding how fonts work on the web check out this article of geek speak – it discusses “font-events” and how to load pages faster, etc. I know my limitations and use my favorite developer to manage the backend of my sites. It saves me lots of time and stress.

RESOURCES:

Fonts and Typography Sites

Myfonts.com – My favorite font house.

Typecast – Use Typecast to create visual and semantic designs. Check for readability, rendering and beauty then share a working prototype of your design.

Monotype.com – We are the company behind type. Our fonts and technologies bring the world’s words to the page and screen. Subscription $14.99 a month

Fonts.com – Another high end font house, I linked to their deal page.

Free Fonts Sites 

Type Depot Fontsthere are a few free ones here! 

Creative MarketThis is a great resource for all types of design inspiration and graphics, including some free fonts

Books about Typography


*Some of this blog post contains affiliate links. I choose who I reference based on my experience with their quality information and resources, not because they’ll pay me a few pennies. Thank you!

 


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About Becky Bayne

Becky is a graphic designer with over 30 years of experience. She is the founder and president of Becky's Graphic Design which she began in 1992. She and her husband live outside of Nashville, TN where she enjoys creative photography, gardening, and baking for her family.

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