Typography matters: What’s in a font?

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Typography – one of my loves in life. I have dreams of old fashioned letterpresses and wooden block type. As a child of the ’80s, the memory of type for me is scrolling through the font list on Microsoft Works, trying to find the coolest lettering for my homework! Everyone makes a conscious decision to pick a font in most things they do – their emails, their essays or their letters.
But, why does it matter which one we pick?
Let’s start with an easy one – out of these 2 logos, which font is best suited?
I’m hoping you’ve all said the second one?! (If not, you clearly have a fantastic love for Hitchcock & no-one can tell you otherwise.)
So, why does the image on the right suit this example better?
Is it because there’s no blood drips? Probably. But – it’s all about brand image and the mood of the piece. The logo in the above example is clean and crisp. It needs to be delicate and professional to match the simple colour palette and geometric shape. In many ways the text beneath the logo is just as important as the logo image itself. Your company name needs to be clear and easily legible.

Font choice goes far beyond logos. What about body copy? What font should you pick to make sure your document flows clearly and easily for the user. The following examples show a good body font & a poor body font. The script, whilst probably apt for a Cornish smuggler’s map, is not going to make for an easy read. If your copy is not easy to read, you will instantly lose the interest of your potential customers.

paragraphexample paragraphexamplescript

It’s not always this straight forward though. There are so many clear and simple fonts to choose from. What makes one better than the other?
For example, Arial and Verdana are two of the most popular, most used fonts in web design and publishing. But what’s the difference between them?

Arial: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
Verdana: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

Not much, it seems! Both are sans serif fonts and look very similar at first glance. The differences are subtle but hugely important. This is where your designer can lift your brand or website over and above the norm. Let’s look in to these 2 typefaces a little further. If we narrow the prase down to a single word, we can look at the slight differences.

Arial: jumps
Verdana: jumps

The letters in the Arial font are narrower, more structured and upright. The letters in the Verdana font are more open, more relaxed and a lot wider. This is most evident in the letters “u” and “p”. Compare the heights of the letters & compare the white space within them. Once you start to notice these small differences, the whole sentence now looks different between the two fonts.

It’s these tiny differences between the fonts that make it very difficult but very important to choose the correct typeface for your project. You much make sure that the font chosen gives the reader another level of understanding about what your brand is trying to convey. This is just the beginning, however. There is a whole world of typography that is ever-changing. Believe it or not, there are fashions within typefaces, there are trends and best-practices. This is where your designer comes in. If you’re looking for help creating the correct image for your brand, do email me at hello@jeanius-design.co.uk and see how I can ensure your typography reflects your business.

Jeanius! is a small, dedicated graphic and web design studio, run by Jean Dunn-Bardo at the foot of the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire. I specialise in website design and development, logo and brand creation & printed material design for businesses of all sizes and budgets. Please email Jean at hello@jeanius-design.co.uk with your ideas & requirements for a friendly, no-obligation chat. I'd love to hear from you and help bring your ideas to life!
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