#WOL Working Out Loud: But, All Those Beautiful FONTS!

Back in the day, when I was a neophyte in the “art department”, I would take font and type style books home and pore over them by the hour. Suffice it to say, I love beautiful fonts! Google makes it easy to shop fonts, these days. Just wow!

What do I mean by “beautiful fonts”? Just take a look at these-- --

5 fonts demonstrating the use of cursive and handwriting

5 fonts demonstrating the use of cursive and handwriting

I know what you’re thinking. If I love beautiful fonts so much, this post is written in a fairly boring and usual font. Well, that’s done on purpose.

Serif Fonts, Non-Serif Fonts, and Handwriting Fonts

Serifs are the little curly bits tacked onto the tops of letters and the descenders, sometimes, too. Like this:

3 letters with the serifs highlighted

3 letters with the serifs highlighted

The extra curly bits make it difficult for some to read. Likewise, with screen reading equipment. Simple, sans serif fonts, at a reasonable size, are always the best way to go.

And a moment on handwriting fonts. Have you ever received a holiday card or wedding invitation printed with a 9 or 10-point handwriting font in gold or silver and you had to tilt in the light just to read it? Let’s just call a party foul on the use of these font choices and be done using them.

Font Size

Font sizes determined by how the reader will be reading the text. Meaning, in documents,

In documents, let’s agree that 12-point is a good place to start. Likewise, for online learning.

Font sizes determined also by the font selected. I won’t go into what proportional fonts are, possibly confusing you. The really short version: Some fonts allow more white space around the letters than others. And, the letter “o” determines the width for the letters. While subtle, there is a difference. To see what I mean, type the following text into a document, three times: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. Then, change one of them to Calibri 12-point, the second to Arial 12-point, and the third to Gill Sans 12-point. Can you see the differences?

Projected text on big screens that people will read from several feet away, the font needs to be larger. Test readability by stepping back 3-4 feet away from the computer. If you can’t read it at that size, boost it up.

Number of Fonts and Font Styles

Follow these best practices, and you can't go wrong:

  • Use no more than two different fonts in a document. 
  • Use no more than two different font sizes.
  • Use italics sparingly.
  • Bold and all caps are for headings and occasionally to emphasize a word or two.

Go Forth and Write Accessibly!

This rather quick post is to introduce you to how to use fonts differently and whet your appetite to read more about the subject. There are many, many books and web sites devoted to fonts. Spend the time. I know you will be glad you did

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