3 Things to Consider When Selecting Font Types for Design

When it comes to branding or designing, font types might seem like the least of your worries or your last decision. But in reality, it may take a designer hours, even days, to select the right font for a project.


Font choice can easily make or break a project. With one misstep in choosing a font type, you can change the whole mood and tone of the design. It can go from a serious message to a playful message, or from a sweet message to a threatening one.



To avoid miscommunication as shown in the example above,  here are a few things you should consider when selecting a font type for your branding and design projects.


But First, What Exactly is a Font?
A font is a set of characters including letters, numbers, and symbols within a certain type of font.





Fonts are categorized into different font types: serif, sans-serif, script, and decorative.


Serif Fonts
This is a type of typeface that has extra strokes on the ends of the letterforms, known as “serifs”. A serif font can evoke feelings of tradition, trustworthiness, and respect.


Sans- Serif Fonts
This typeface is like Serif fonts but does not have the serifs on their letterforms. A sans-serif font is considered to be more modern, clean, and minimalistic. Since this style is so clean in its letterforms, it is known to have high legibility.


Script Fonts
Script fonts are a type of font that looks like cursive handwriting or calligraphy.  They can either be formal scripts and evoke feelings of elegance and class or more casual scripts that are more playful and fun.


Decorative Fonts
A decorative font has unique letter shapes that achieve distinct or dramatic results. Since they are more stylized to match a theme, they should be used only for ornamental purposes for signage and headlines and not large bodies of text.





What Tone/ Mood Are You Trying to Convey?


First off, you need to determine what the tone is for your branding or design project. Is it lighthearted? Is it sad? Is it professional?


Without knowing it, font types can evoke emotions differently. Just how colors make us feel certain emotions, fonts have the same effect when communicating to an audience.



As seen in the first example above, the mood of communication can change based on the type of font used. If you are using a fun, silly font but your message is something urgent and serious, then it’s likely your subject matter will not be taken seriously. Imagine using a cute, bubbly display font on a Covid- 19 infographic. The tone for the message would be completely thrown off by a light-hearted and fun font type when the information being presented is supposed to be serious and alarming.


If you want your branding or design to come off as trustworthy, respectable, traditional, and comforting use a serif font. If you want to come off more modern, secure, clean, and chic consider using a sans-serif font.


Other types of fonts like script fonts can show elegance, creativity, and romance. Display fonts can stretch from a variety of emotions due to the uniqueness of each font, but we can assume most come off friendly, expressive, or amusing.




Who Are You Trying to Reach?


When looking for font types to use it is also important to consider your target audience. Are they children? Are they grown adults? Or is it just the general public?


Going hand in hand with the tone, you also want to appeal to the demographic. Not one font belongs to a certain age group or location but some types of fonts can appeal better to certain audiences.


When targeting children or a younger audience, for example, you want a font style that will grab their attention easily. So use a font type that is big with some personality that comes off as more playful and fun but is also easy to read. I would suggest choosing a unique sans-serif. These are easy to read but also hold personality (depending on the specific font). You can also use a decorative font since they are more unique and have fun shapes to their letterforms.



When you are targeting an older, more mature audience or the general public you have more of a range with the type of font usage. Since they have no trouble reading letterforms, all font types are fair game depending on what the design project is or what your brand is. For example, if you are targeting women, I would suggest using a font that seems more feminine. You can use a sans-serif or script since these come off a bit lighter, modern, and elegant.



Is it Legible and Readable? 



Legibility is how well you can see the letters. Readability is how easily you can read words in a sentence.


A crucial part of selecting a type of font for your brand or design project is how legible a certain font is.


It doesn’t matter if it is the coolest, most unique font you have seen, if the audience can’t understand it, it is useless. You want your brand or design to have clear communication and without question on “what letter is that?” or “ what does that even say?”


Legibility happens most often with script and decorative fonts, so make sure you are using those with caution. Sometimes the script is over-exaggerated with its forms and you aren’t sure what each letter is or some may not know how to read cursive text. If you are wanting to use a script type of font make sure that it’s a casual script that is easy to read but also still holds the form as a script font. As for decorative font legibility, this one can be tough depending on the font. Just keep in mind that if the letters start losing their shape or become hard to read even slightly, it’s probably not a good idea to use it. If you think it’s questionable, ask a peer and get another opinion on it!




Now readability is a little different, this issue comes most with a larger body of text like a sentence or paragraph, not just headings or short statements. When appealing to readability you mostly want to stick with the serif and sans-serif types of fonts.



With small portions of copy, it is safe to use either a sans-serif or a serif but if you are working with a larger amount of copy (like paragraphs) you should use a serif. Serif fonts are actually designed for large bodies of text. They were designed with their strokes at the end of their letterforms to lead the eye across a body of text, making it much easier on the eye to read.




Need help selecting a font type for your next design project or branding? We would love to help!  
Author Info

Hi there! My name is Sidney Meyers and I am one of the Graphic Designers here at Systemax. I am responsible for creating artwork, anywhere from logos to social media graphics, to fulfill the needs and goals of a variety of different clients. Outside of work, you can most likely find me hanging out with friends, planning my next weekend adventure, or creating projects on my Cricut!