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Top 10 Rules for Choosing the Best Typeface

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Top 10 Rules for Choosing the Best Typeface

Did you know that the typeface you choose for a layout or design can have an either positive or negative outcome? With the variety of options available, there is never one ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way. But what can you do to ensure you choose the best typeface for a signage design?

1. Set the right mood

When referring to mood, it is not the emotional kind of mood. This is matching the mood with the typeface. For instance, are you designing a typeface for car decals that are meant to be fun and sporty? Try to use a typeface that goes in line with the feeling of the moment. Look for a typeface that reflects fun and sporty. On the other hand, if you have to make a professional vehicle wrap, you may want to use a typeface that is bold and that stands out.

2. Choose the right typeface

It is okay to occasionally use a fun and flirty typeface, but more often than not, you would stand a better chance while using more common typefaces. These tend to offer more versatility and come in different styles that will not distract the reader from the message that is being put across.

3. Be careful when using uncommon typefaces

Decorative style typefaces should be used with caution. Some typefaces are ideal as headings meant to capture your attention. But the rest of the text does not have to be in the same typeface, especially if the letters are large such as on signs and billboards. These types of typefaces are often used for headlines, or are meant to capture your reader’s attention. They are also meant to emphasize on something. Using just a little of these types of typefaces will have a strong effect as opposed to using too much of them.

4. Use the right combination of typefaces

Using two kinds of typefaces in the same signage tends to be tricky. The general rule that a typical sign shop will work with is to use a serif and san serif combination. You can have fun with this as you can use a modern typeface with an old one. Or maybe a script type, with a san serif. Your options and combinations are limitless. However, if you choose to do this, it is important that you keep in mind the contrast that the two types might have with one another. The contrast between the two should be enough to distinguish one from the other. Some combinations of typeface end up looking more like a mistake than a design choice. There are other ideas on how to use two typefaces together. You can use two typefaces within the same style of typeface but that have different weights and styles. An example would be a combination of ‘Arial Black’ and ‘Arial Narrow’. If you choose this approach, you will find that your possibilities are numerous.

5. If you are working on a particular project, limit the number of typefaces you use

If you are working on a project, for example Vancouver signs; you are advised to use not more than two types of typefaces. This keeps your work looking neat. Too many typefaces will distract your viewers, and make your work look shoddy and childish. Use more than two typefaces only when your client asks you to.

6. Make sure the typeface you choose has the characters you need

You must me aware that there are some typefaces that only have uppercase. Some do not have numbers, italics of a variety of weights. If you are working on a project that will eventually land in a something like a magazine, then you will need to use a typeface that offers all these options. However, not all of your projects will require you to have all of those ‘extras’.

7. It must be readable

You may already know that there are some typefaces that are easier to read, as compared to others depending on the situation. An example would be trying to read scrip typeface on a billboard while driving. That would be too annoying. In such a situation, using a bold and clear typeface would be better to improve on readability. If you are working on a book, then readability is an absolute must! Luckily, there are enough typefaces out there that are designed specifically for books. Some of them are Caslon, Minion and Bembo. Newspapers too have their specific typeface such as the Times New Roman.

8. Stick with safe typefaces if it is a web project

Working on a web project can at times be a little bit tricky. This is because the typefaces you use on your computer, may not be the same on the web. A user might want to read your content only to find that it is displayed in a different typeface than the one you had initially used. So before you start your project, be sure to check that the typeface you want to use is compatible with the web as well. It is an honest mistake that can happen. If you choose not to use web typefaces, ensure you use ones that are set on default by most computers. Examples are like Arial and Courier.

9. Be mindful of the effect of using text on a dark background

A lot of the typefaces available today were designed to be used against a light background. If you use a thin typeface, your text may get lost in a dark background. The same can be said if the material is to be printed on newspaper, as it become very easy of the darker print to bleed onto the lighter areas, thus reducing readability. In such instances, a bold and clear typeface should be your first choice.

10. Do not follow all these rules down to the letter

Despite all the guidelines and rules that may exist out there on the correct use and form of typefaces, there are exceptions to these rules. Furthermore, it is more important to always follow your gut instinct. This is one of the unique aspects of graphic designing. It also involves a lot of trial and error, but as time passes, you will only get better and better.


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