It’s difficult to overstate the importance of typography in design. Whether it’s the logo, a product description or blog post, choosing a font that conveys the information you want about your company and message is as essential as the wording itself. Believe it or not, the typeface tells a story long before the words are digested. For instance, a vintage font suggests old-timey qualities, a delicate script symbolizes feminine sophistication and a minimalist sans serif implies logic and fact. No matter what the intended use, however, every designer should have five specific types of fonts in his collection. Here are the ones that will get the most use in your work and why.
The original typeface, serifs feature small lines attached to the end points of a letter. These typefaces are mostly used for print materials, as the serifs make the each word easier to recognize visually. The additional line on the letter is called the serif. Some examples of popular serif fonts include Times New Roman, Book Antiqua and 1790 Royal Printing. They lend a sophisticated yet decorative appeal to content, but again, they look best on printed materials rather than on digital mediums. When working with online content, you’ll probably prefer sans serifs.
Sans, from the French, means “without.” These refer to fonts that don’t have that extra flourish or dash of the serif. They’re much simpler, and they look great online. Additionally, they’re very easy to read on computer or mobile screens, making them particularly popular with web and graphic designers. Just because they’re minimal doesn’t mean they’re boring, though. You can find vintage, decorative and elegant sans serifs as readily as you can serifs; it’s all in the style of the lettering. Some popular examples of sans serifs include Arial, Gills Sans and Tide Sans Condensed.
Also known as Egyptian, slab serifs have bold, thick serif lines with little variation between the letter and the serif, unlike the original style, which has thinner serifs. As a result, they have a very pronounced affect and clean look. These are great fonts for making an argument, emphasizing something important or using for headlines or titles, but they can just as easily be used for content, depending on the needs of the website. Examples of slab serifs include Rockwell, College and Maxwell Slab. They have a more casual appeal, so they work well for blogs and smaller companies that like personal interaction with buyers.
Appearing more like natural handwriting, often with a cursive style, script fonts are approachable while having a distinctively elegant air. Mostly used for more dramatic elements, such as a logo, title or headline, some scripts are legible enough for larger chunks of text. Highly ornamental flourishes can lend dramatic weight to content associated with special occasions, such as invitations to parties or weddings, while informal styles look like casual handwriting and work well for blog entries. Popular examples of script fonts include Black Chancery, Chopin Script and The Carpenter.
Script fonts can certainly be decorative, but fonts that are intended only for short, impactful statements or names have their own category. Perfect for logos, decorative fonts are eye-catching, with flourishes, unique styles and memorable designs that are catchy for users. Think of your favorite logos for big name brands like Coca-Cola, Disney or Kool-Aid. They all use decorative fonts. Another popular example is Desire. Decorative typefaces are the most evocative and should be used very carefully, because they send a strong message.
Every good designer comes prepared with a collection of tools that are versatile enough for any application. With typography such an essential element to design, having a selection of fonts from every category above is a requirement. Send the message you intend to every time with these suggestions, or find more at Creative Market.