As the first printing presses in Europe began pumping out volumes for mass consumption it quickly became apparent that the masses (at least those who were literate) would benefit from documents that were legible. So was born the science (and some would say art) of font / typeface design.
today the designer is faced with an enormous choice when it comes to choosing the right font for the job, however the sheer number of fonts make it intensely challenging to find the font that is perfect.
Here are some guidelines to make that choice just that little bit easier.
#1 Legibility Governs.
A great font makes reading a pleasure so legibility must be the most important consideration when you choose your font. Don’t stray too far from conventional fonts if you want to engage properly with the reader. Many of the older styles of fonts have stood the test of time due to the fact that they are highly legible. Ensure that the designs and spacing are consistent. Some very experienced designer can break these rules – but the old saying is applicable – you have to know the rules before you can break them.
#2 The Age Old Question – Serif Or San Serif?
This is probably the most asked question when it comes to layout and design. The answer of course is that the font employed must be ‘fit for purpose’ – that is it must contribute to the legibility of the particular type of project. Traditionally newspapers used san serif for headlines and a serif typeface for body copy. San serif typefaces are highly legible from a distance and their adoption was partly due to the fact that newspaper sellers wanted headlines to be visible from a distance when welling in the street. This tradition is now apparent in the layout of web copy as well. However, as usual the web has revolutionized a traditional approach – in this case the approach to fonts and typefaces.
With the myriad of different design programs out there many web designers are building their own typefaces.
Today web design uses a mixture of san serif and serif typefaces with abandon. However, the bedrock rule of legibility and spacing are still valid. The visitor to a web site must be comfortable viewing the content and this means the use of a clean and attractive font that contributes to the order and easy reading of the content.