How to Choose Fonts for the Right Mood
Tips for Choosing a Font
I had never thought about it before, but there are so many fonts to choose from because each one conveys a mood and emotion. The problem is finding the right font for just the right mood you want to portray. This isn’t an easy job, believe me. The important thing to remember is that there is no cut and dry method for picking just the right font. Sometimes you just have to try a few to see if it will fit with your design and message.
You have to choose a font that is first, readable. The message is the most important thing or you wouldn’t be bothering typing a word in the first place. Therefore if you choose a font that is difficult to decipher, the audience will not bother to read it. Second is picking a font that fits the overall design. It won’t do to choose Bleeding Cowboy font to go for something romantic. Also, the font needs to fit the message. A serious message doesn’t call for a playful typeface.
Serif vs San Serif
If you don’t know much about fonts, the very first thing to think about is Serif and San Serif. The Serif fonts have “feet” and other accents that make it look rather Roman. Most book type and newsprint are Serif.
San Serif has none of the feet and other accents. San literally means “without,” so it is without Serif. San Serif is used for more modern, no-nonsense types of messages. It works great for advertisement and posters because of its readability and simplicity.
Serif and San Serif
Feelings and Mood
Notice the sample Serif and San Serif texts. They are both varied and individual but in small subtle ways. Some have the ‘a’s in round handwriting type and others have the traditional Roman a, with a little tail. Some have squished o’s and others have perfectly round o’s. Choosing a basic text font is a matter of personal preference.
Each font gives the added difference of subtle mood as well. The Serif round bookish fonts give you the feeling of a children’s storytime. The San Serif round fonts give the feeling of freedom, taking lots of space and even a little childish playfulness. The more squeezed concise Serifs seem serious to me and the more squeezed San Serif seem to feel tall and thin like a fairy tale beanstalk. I use the San Serif Chalkboard for children’s writing. It even looks a little like crayon when colored text is used.
There are several italic San Serif fonts that give an elegant romantic feel, great for wedding announcements or Valentine’s Day cards. Other San Serif italics like Apple Chancery are less romantic but have a feminine feel. After a while, you get a sense of the feeling each font evokes, but at first, I know I was so confused, I couldn’t figure out what the professor of the class was trying to tell me. They all looked alike to me. Remember that these fonts ARE similar, but the variations are small and subtle and you need to look for them.
When choosing a font for advertising you need to think about the firm as well as the mood. With the Financial Advisors logo I created, the first one is fine. It has a good bold feel but the rounded edges give it a more playful feel, almost laid back. Not really the mood you want for a Financial Advisor. The second one is much sharper at the edges as well and firm in all the lines and corners. This gives a firm and sharp feel to the financial institution also.
Decorative FontsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Pairing and Decorative Headline Fonts
There are so many new decorative fonts being created every day it seems to me. Some are great but not very readable. Again it goes back to trying them out to see if you can read it easily and if it fits your design and mood.
Most posters, websites, magazine pages, etc., have more than one font style. Pairing two or three fonts, one for the body of the text and one for the headline and subhead is standard practice. This allows for serious text (Serif) along with a more playful headline (San Serif decorative). This is where all the creativity can come into play.
I will sometimes take two fonts and pair them in the same word. Using a really flowery, flowing capital letter from one font and a more script-like font for the rest of the word. These are fun for headlines and greeting cards. On the word Simplicity, I used the S from Taggettes Plus and the rest of the word from Taggettes Regular. On top of that, I didn’t like the way the t and y join, so I typed the "y" separately and moved it into the place I wanted it to join.
Does choosing Fonts make you confused so that you go back to the default fonts?
How It Feels To Be Dyslexic
Caps vs. Mixed Case
Studies have shown that mixed upper case and lower case are easier to read than ALL caps, especially when you are in a hurry, as in billboards on the freeway. This doesn’t stop people from using all caps in posters and advertising. The reason is probably because with all caps you don’t have to worry about ascenders and descenders in certain letters. All the letters in caps line up fairly smoothly, with the exception of Q. Still if it cannot be read as well as mixed case, there is that.
In my sample, I used Hoefler Text Ornaments and Orial Bold for the capital letter with Lucida Handwriting Italic for the rest of the word.
Masculine vs. Feminine
So it isn’t exactly “sugar and spice and everything nice” vs. “frogs and snails and puppy dog’s tails,” but it’s close. A masculine font would be sharper and grungier, vs. feminine softer and rounder. Masculine would have a rugged, even Western feel, whereas feminine would have a flowery, homey feel. I have found a few examples to show the difference. What you want to think about when choosing these fonts is your audience. Are you trying to appeal to men or women? With that in mind, choosing should be easier.
I don’t claim to be an expert but I did take some classes and learned a couple of things. I hope these tips are helpful to anyone confused about fonts and typography. If I got anything wrong or you disagree with anything I have said here, I encourage dialog. I would love to hear what you think about this and any helpful hints would be most welcome.