Help, I'm Lost In A Sea Of Typefaces, Part 2
by Ilene Strizver
In part one of this article, we discussed how to prepare for your search for the right typeface. By this time, you’ve already asked yourself some strategic questions about the goals of your project and the audience it’s being designed for. Now, you’re ready to get down to the nitty-gritty of font selection. The best way to begin is with the process of elimination.
Serif & Sans
Most text and display typefaces come in one of two flavors: serif or sans serif. Serif designs, with their finishing strokes that extend from the ends of the characters, are more traditional and are generally considered to be more readable, since the serifs guide the eye from one character to the next.
Sans serif designs are valued for their simplicity and their clean, often industrial appearance. Deciding between serif and sans at the early stages of the selection process will narrow your search considerably.
For some jobs, choosing fonts from an extended type family makes sense. It’s also a great way to simplify the font selection process. Extended type families are collections of text (or text and display) designs with corresponding sans, serif, and sometimes informal or script versions. The fonts within a family usually have the same basic structure but with different finishing details, which means they are guaranteed to work well together. Using a type family can be a safe and effective way to mix typefaces while keeping your project looking clean and not over-designed.
Scripts and Calligraphic Fonts
Don’t overlook scripts and calligraphic fonts. These faces can be elegant and formal, or humanistic, quirky and quite individualistic.
If you choose a design in this category, look at the typeface in the size and resolution you plan to use it in. Make sure it’s readable and legible enough for your purpose.
There are many styles and categories of typefaces to consider when you’re designing a project. But once you’ve identified your audience and your piece’s objectives, the feeling of being overwhelmed by an endless search will be replaced by confident enthusiasm, and ultimately, the satisfaction of knowing you’ve picked the right type for the job.
- Editor’s Note:Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer and writer specializing in all aspects of typographic communication. She conducts Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. Read more about typography in her latest literary effort, Type Rules! The designer's guide to professional typography, 4th edition, published by Wiley & Sons, Inc. This article was commissioned and approved by Monotype Imaging Inc.