There are many ways to express yourself without overtly stating your feelings – through your hairstyle, dress, body language and facial expressions. These are all physical indicators of what’s going on beneath the surface. But what about when you aren’t face-to-face with someone? How can you send a message that goes beyond simple words?
Our handwriting can give away aspects of our personalities, whether we want it to or not. There is entire field devoted to the study of handwriting (“graphology“) but in today’s digital world it is less and less common that we actually get our words out using pen and paper.
Interestingly enough, the principles of graphology can also be applied to the fonts you choose to use. While the selection of a font may seem more deliberate than the shape your letters take when writing by hand, there is still an element of the subconscious at play. If you are looking to impart a specific message to your readers, it’s important to look below the surface of the words and think what signals your font choices could be sending, too.
The 5 Categories of Fonts
On a recent episode of Jeopardy, the final question stumped all three contestants: “The 3 major Western typefaces are Gothic, Roman & this one first used in an entire book in 1501 for a work by Virgil.” The contestants all came back with specific fonts, like Times New Roman, but nobody caught that “Italic” came from the title of the Iliad. For those of us working at a company that publishes a book titled The Elements of Typographic Style, the answer was obvious, but most people don’t think about typefaces on a regular basis.
In the years since that 16th-century publication, typefaces and the fonts they include have evolved, especially with the introduction of digital type. When designing a document or webpage there seem to be an infinite number of styles to choose from, but they can all be divided up into these five main categories*.
*Note: some sources divide these slightly differently, or add a sixth category, but they all follow the same basic guidelines
Infographic Source: The Daily Egg
Identified by the small lines (called “serifs”) at the ends of the letters, Serif fonts tend to suggest practicality and reliability.
Literally meaning “without serifs,” Sans Serif fonts seem straightforward, conveying honesty and simplicity.
Script fonts are different than the italic version of a font, as these are specifically designed to look like handwriting. They emphasise aesthetics over readability and can convey elegance and creativity.
Modern fonts can be Serif or Sans Serif, but tend to have a wider letter spacing and are bit more harsh looking than traditional fonts. These fonts convey strength and assertiveness.
Also called “novelty,” these typefaces call attention to themselves and can be fun and playful – in small doses. As a logo these can be effective, but nobody wants to read an entire document in a Display font.
So, what does your go-to font say about you?
About Paperblanks: At Paperblanks, we believe that art should have a place in all aspects of life. That’s why we follow the artist’s way in everything we do – creating, crafting and releasing designs we believe have the power to touch people. For more about Paperblanks, go to our website at paperblanks.com.
Interesting 🙂 I work for a print company and do find myself using the same font in designs for a while before changing to another (depending on the job, of course).
Interesting! I guess it’s like any creative field – you will probably find yourself really inspired by or interested in a particular style for while, and adapt it into your own, before moving on. Which type of font do you find yourself most drawn to?