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How To Use Fonts (And Why You Should Care)

Please refer to our Design Tips page under the Customer Service section of our site.

Presentation is crucial to all forms of communication–most of all when dealing with written communication. Unlike information conveyed personally, a written message is static. It must speak for itself. Expert communicators know that superb content is not enough. They know that to achieve truely effective communication one must pay equal attention to how the content is presented. Contrarily, untrained communicators don't realize that style can, often does, everride substance–and trash-cans nationwide brim with the remains of poorly presented documents. So how can you enhance the quality of your presentation? Start with the basics. And basically, the fundemental element of written communicationis the font.

The font is the interface between your ideas and your readers. Put simply, the font is the style of your typeface. Is it big, bold, crisp, underlined, or colored? Is it spaced well? Is it even legible?

When utilized well, a font or font mix accomplishes four things: 1) focuses attention, 2) enhances readability, 3) sets a tone, and 4) projects an image. Font is your first chance to really capture an audience, create a positive and lasting impression, and encourage continued interest. Remember though, while font can be used for positive results can create bad impressions.

To assist you here is a brief listing of useful font guidelines.

As per tradition, for typical documents you should use upper and lower case text for the body of your work. Avoid using all upper or lower case text anywhere in your document, as both can be difficult to read. As for headings and titles, use upper case lettering whenever prescribed or necessary.

Generally accepted writing guidelines for typical documents prescribe the use of 10-12 point font for the body, 14-48 point font for primary headings, and one-half of the primary heading point size for secondary headings. A warning though: font on your computer screen may appear larger than it actually is. If you err, err on the large side. Remember, if your text is too small to read, it simply won't get read.

Simplicity is a virtue in writing. Keep this in mind when choosing a font or font mix. Remember, your font is supposed to enhance your message, not sabotage it. Unless it is truely warranted, tend toward simple, inconspicuous fonts like Times New Roman or Arial. Also, these fonts, among others, are True Type–this means that what you see on the screen is exactly what you will see on the page.

Font is a privilage, not a right. So don't abuse it by using many different styles in the same document. As a rule, do not use more than two or three fonts in the same piece. Like the saying goes, three fonts is a crowd–on your reader's attention. So once you choose a font, be consistant and use it throughout.

Although, in general, font use should be consistant throughout a project, variety is sometimes needed to break the monotony. One good way to infuse diversity into a document is via the use of italicized, bold, or underlined text. These highlighting tools, as well as many others, are properly used to signal importance, emphasis, even inflection. But remember, use them sparingly or they will not be effective.

The goal of every project is different; as is the intended audience, the resources available, and so on. Accordingly, there isn't one best font. Rather, it is the characteristics of your project that determine which font is preferable. Remember, these are just guidelines, not gospel. If you need uppercase text, use it. A multicolored paragraph? Do it. Ultimately, the bottom line is: Does your presentation match your goal and will it generate the desired result?

Quikie Print & Copy Shops
PRINTING • COPYING • DIGITAL GRAPHICS • Cobblestone Village • 827 West Park Avenue  •  Ocean, New Jersey 07712 • 732-531-8860
E-mail: ocean@quikieprint.com