The Personalities of a Typeface


We’ve all had the experience and freedom of choosing our own typefaces. Remember in 5th grade when you wrote your report on the Aztecs, using Comic Sans because Times New Roman just wasn’t as much fun? Comic Sans appealed to us as children because it has an easy-going, cartoon-like quality about it (exactly the reason it was designed.) But something like Times New Roman is all business, very serious, like the kid who actually studied in study hall instead of doodling little hearts on their Trapper Keeper and passing notes with their friends.

Typefaces have the power to make or break a design. Different typefaces and how they’re used can completely change the message you’re trying to communicate. The typography of a design not only catches the viewers attention but it also helps to convey the mood and emotion of a piece, as well as helping to establish an audience base, who are you marketing to or designing for? If you’re designing a label for a liquor company you probably don’t want to use Comic Sans or Curlz MT, people may not be very happy that you’ve created a vodka for 8-year-old girls.

For designers, and much too often people who think they are designers (please I’m begging, leave it to the professionals?) choosing the right typeface is much like choosing the right pair of shoes. Typographer extraordinaire, Gail Anderson, put it in words best in this July’s issue of How when she explained, “Typography can be the vehicle for communication or it can even become the concept itself, which is pretty exciting”. The concept can be outstanding, but using the wrong font or even worse, fonts that don’t work cohesively, is like wearing running shoes with an evening gown. (Yes, this IS a bad thing.)

For as long as there’s design, and as long as everyone has access to a cornucopia of typefaces, there will always be examples of poor typography. That’s just life. But maybe go ahead and put it in your notes, Papyrus is unacceptable, and while you’re at it jot Comic Sans and Curlz MT down on that list too. Let’s leave it for the 5th graders and the comics.

Let me leave you with some font related funny (watch video).