When designing a business card, vehicle sign, or job site signage, one of your first choices is the type of font to use. And while it may seem irrelevant, the choice of font will be necessary. The right font will allow your customer to find your message quickly; the wrong font may keep it from reading your sign at all.
The typeface history goes back to the 1450s when mobile type printing was invented at the birth of the Renaissance. The Bible was first printed by Gutenberg using a typeface called Textualis, which is almost unique to modern readers. Since the first printing press, the typeface has come a long way. At the beginning of typeface, the words "font" and "type" meant two very different things. Still, now, in the age of digital typography, they are often interchangeable.
There are thousands of fonts available, but we can categorize them into five groups. To figure out the right font for your needs, you'll need to know a little about each one.
A serif is the small angular line protruding from the upper and lower ends of a letter. The most common serif typeface is Times New Roman, produced by the British newspaper The Times in 1931, which is most comfortable to read, especially when dealing with large amounts of text (Times New Roman is still used almost exclusively in book publishing). Popular serif fonts are Minion Pro and Bookman Old Style. Use serif fonts for your business essentials.
The word Sans means "none" in French. Most directional road signs use sans-serif fonts (think STOP signs, for example), and these fonts are easier to read when the text size is large, and the words are small. The font is the right choice for most job site signage.
The text font is the hardest to read. This font was used to print the first Gutenberg Bibles and was patterned after pre-printing press Bibles handwritten by monks. Today, text fonts are only found on newspaper mastheads or logos for businesses wishing to convey the Renaissance sense.
New fonts can be either charming or obnoxious, depending on the use. These fonts can be dangerous - once you start designing with them, they can become addictive. However, it is appropriate to use novelty fonts in some situations; for example, a sign advertising Halloween specials might use a font on Halloween's theme (but only if the sign has capital letters and a few words). Many novelty fonts are difficult to read and should never be used for large copies. Don't be confused.
Script And Cursive
Script and cursive fonts are classy and formal. The small difference between "script" and "cursed" fonts is whether the letters are merged. If not, the font is a "script" - if they are, the font is cursive. They are typically used on invitations and card sets. These fonts are designed to reflect handwriting but are challenging to read. Script and cursive fonts should be avoided in business plans, letters, and other professional papers. They should be used with care on signs, if ever at all.
Capital and Lowercase Letters
It would be best if you would typically use a combination of capital and lower case letters, which are most comfortable to read. It may be tempting but don't use all capital letters, except for headings in documents and brochures, and on signs of three words or less. When using all capitals on social media settings like Facebook, Instagram or LinkIn. On these forums, typing in all cap is like shouting and is considered very rude.
Words written in all capital letters using "scripts," cursive fonts and text are almost impossible to interpret and should never be used.
When you first start designing sign or print, think carefully about your audience. Are they reading much text or waiting in line at the cash register and reading your return policy? Will they pass your business and read your signs while speeding at 40 mph? Does your audience need something straightforward and uncomplicated? Are you reading fonts, or are cute novelty fonts appropriate? You can read the message by selecting the font that suits your needs.
So what's next?
- Determine your target audience and the sign's location, as this allows you to ensure the font is the correct size for the reader. There is a vast difference between designing a banner above a restaurant and designing a banner for a roadside or highway.
- Minimize the use of colour. Signs that are too busy can be challenging to decipher. Try to have bold, contrasting colours.
- Stick to simplicity, and be concise with the message. Try to keep the word count at a maximum of seven words, as too many words add clutter and confusion to the banner.
- Avoid mixing fonts where possible. Keep to just one to give the sign a consistent feel.
When you have finished your design, make sure you check out Apollo Sign Construction Div's range of signage and print products to get the best quality and price for your signage. Or, if you would like some help with your design, go to the contact page and give us a shout; the Apollo Sign Construction Team is here to help.