Want to know how to choose the perfect font for your creative projects? Here are 10 expert tips for choosing the perfect font.
Any designer knows that choosing the right font can make or break a project. A standout font can help to create an atmosphere, capture an audience’s attention, and convey the right message. But on the flip side, the wrong font can ruin a design. So, there’s no denying that choosing the right font for your business or project is crucial.
Whether you obsess over the latest latest font trends, you’re a designer that likes to break the rules, or you have a taste for the finer fonts in life, choosing the right font is key to nailing your visual messaging. But, knowing how to choose the right font can take experience – and a few mistakes along the way.
So, how do you develop the eye for choosing the perfect font? We’ve compiled 10 top tips from some of the best font design experts around for how to choose a font for your creative project.
1. Determine Your Font’s Purpose
Fonts can have many different purposes, from communicating basic information to expressing a complex theme or emotion. That’s why iit’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve with your font choice, as well as who you’re trying to appeal to. Whatever your brief, ensure you’re clear on what your font needs to achieve, how it will be used, or what specific problem it needs to solve.
“The first thing to consider is the intended purpose of the font,” explains Kasper Pyndt, font designer at Approximate Type. “For example, a font for a book should be easy to read and fairly conventional. A font for a psych-music poster should probably be organic and expressive. Try to imagine the intended audience or reader and choose your font accordingly.”
2. Identify Your Project’s Core Elements
When choosing a font or typeface for your project, it’s crucial to first identify its core elements. Whether it’s a theme, a visual motif, or an atmosphere or feeling, try to zone in on the core of your project to build your design around. Once you’ve determined the theme, you can then choose a font to either enhance or contrast with it – depending on what effect you’re trying to achieve.
“I always try to identify the soul of a project,” says Johannes Breyer, font designer at ABC Dinamo. “Try finding a core element to build your design around, and then look for a font which works with or against that. This approach will create something powerful and lasting.”
3. Establish Clear Messaging
Choosing the right font can be crucial in communicating a message beyond just words on a screen; typography can have a huge impact on how people perceive your design, brand or business. So, before choosing a font, ensure you’ve clearly established your brand messaging and know what you want to get across.
“Typefaces are what give a voice to your message,” explains artist and typeface designer, Morganne Borowczyk. “You want to choose fonts that visually support what you’re trying to say.”
Ask yourself: is your brand, business or product playful or serious? Friendly and conversational or professional and formal? Crafty and rustic, or luxury and sleek? What do you want your design to say? Once you’ve clearly defined your messaging, try to choose a font that not only communicates this to your target audience, but encourages them to engage with it too.
“Your font should make people want to engage with the message it’s communicating,” Johannes advises. “It should be designed in the now, by someone who can look into the future of a brand, business or product and define how it will be perceived.”
4. Balance Details and Legibility
“Most display typefaces look great on titles, but are very hard to read on paragraphs,” explains Morganne. “Generally, you want to combine both display and text in a project to balance the details and legibility of your design.”
5. Consider Your Font’s History
If your project is based around a specific topic or complex concept, it can pay to put some extra time into researching the history behind the typeface you choose to use. Considering a font’s history before selecting it can add an extra layer of depth and creativity to your design.
“I like to go a little deeper when I pick fonts,” says Kasper. “If I’m doing a project about, say, Danish architecture, you can bet that I’m going to find a font that’s designed by a historical Danish type designer. Considering the font’s inherent history can add a conceptual sturdiness to a design.”
6. Think Outside of the Box
While the traditional standards of ‘good’ design have stood the test of time for a reason, if you want to stand out, it can pay to do things a little differently. Don’t be afraid to experiment with fonts and typefaces that might not typically fit, or that actively go against, common design rules. For example, exaggerated lettering, distorted text, clashing colors or size, and 3D type can have an incredible impact – it’s all about how you use them.
“Don’t be afraid to use “ugly” type or large type, and think of contrasting font-sizes,” Kasper says. “Create as many different layouts as possible before making a decision. Don’t be scared to use type as illustration. Don’t over-design, but always think outside the box.”
7. Break Design Rules with Intention
While breaking design rules can result in some incredibly creative outcomes, it’s important to do so with intention. Knowing the fundamentals of classic typography is a must-have skill for any graphic designer. By brushing up on typographic rules and mastering design conventions, you can create experimental, eccentric designs which push boundaries, but are still grounded in technique.
“Learn about typographic rules and then break them with intention,” says Morganne. “Knowing about white space, hierarchy, leading, tracking, and kerning will result in solid and structured designs. In my opinion, doing everything by the rules is playing it too safe. So you want to break the rules occasionally to make things that stand out. Experiment and play with type – you know you’re onto something once it starts to feel fun!”
8. Don’t Disregard the Classics
From Baskerville and Rockwell to Futura and Helvetica, there are plenty of timeless typefaces that always look right at home in any project – no matter what century we’re in. While it can be fun to experiment with new styles and dabble in the exciting trends of the moment, don’t disregard those fonts that have stood the test of time. After all, they’re called classics for a reason!
“At the moment, we’re seeing a lot of type designers creating neo-grotesque typefaces similar to Univers and Helvetica,” says Kasper. “Those timeless typefaces seem to never go out of style (at the very least, they haven’t since the 1950s).”
9. Learn About Licensing
Font licensing is a vital part of typography. While you may have found the perfect font for your project, it’s absolutely crucial to check that your fonts are fully licensed for the intended use. If they aren’t, you and your client could be sued. It’s also vital you check every type of license you encounter, and ensure you understand the font licensing terms.
“This is often overlooked but buying the proper font license for your project can save you from a lot of trouble,” says Morganne. “One thing I also like to ask myself before investing in a typeface is ‘is the type designer still alive?’. Whenever I can, I would rather support a living designer or an independent foundry.”
Luckily, all the fonts available on Envato Elements are covered by a lifetime commercial license – ensuring you can use any font – anywhere, anytime – with no strings attached.Don’t get caught up on trends
10. Don’t Get Caught up on Trends
Font design trends are constantly changing and evolving. While paying close attention to the hottest type of the moment may ensure your designs stay current and relevant, don’tget swept up in every typography trend or font fad that comes along. Try to incorporate what’s popular without compromising on the creative integrity of your project to ensure your designs remain unique and timeless.
“I think designs that age less are the ones that actually don’t follow trends,” says Morganne. “If you do everything like everyone else, there’s a higher chance that your designs will look dated in a few years.”
And that does it for our expert font design tips! While you’re here, learn how to make a font with these 10+ Typography and Font Tutorials for Beginners, or check out these 8 Font Trends for 2022: From Retro Fonts to Animated Typography.