When you’re designing digital media projects, how you display your text is just as important as what it ultimately says. Using the wrong typography can alter your message dramatically, no matter what the words are saying. Make sure you’re communicating clearly by giving your font selection thorough consideration. The right picks will make your finished piece compelling, eye-catching, and thoroughly engaging so you can leave your audience with the perfect impression.

The Serif Vs. Sans Serif Battle

Image via Flickr by adactio

As you’re choosing typography, one of the first questions you’ll find yourself facing is whether you want to go with a serif or sans serif font. If you’re not familiar with these terms, serif fonts are those with little lines attached to the letters. Some people describe them as having “feet.” These tiny embellishments are known as serifs. Sans serif fonts are those without these embellishments.

Times New Roman is a classic serif font. Some people believe that serif fonts are easier to read and recommend them for any large block of text. Sans serif fonts, then, are more commonly used for headings or shorter blocks of text. Sans serif fonts, such as Calibri, are also better for captions or other bits of small text. The lack of embellishments makes them easier to read in fine print.

While you should give some consideration to your choice of a serif or sans serif font, know there are no hard and fast rules. You’ll find plenty of readable web pages with long blocks of sans serif text, which prove that either option is ultimately fine.

Using Display Fonts

Display fonts are decorative fonts that have a playful twist. The fanciful typography used for many brand logos would be considered display fonts. Display fonts can be more difficult to read in a large block of text. However, they’re ideal for headings or even subheadings. If you’re creating an infographic or video, a display font is a good way to grab your viewer’s attention. It also adds some personality to the piece as you highlight the title or an important heading.

If you’re looking for a display font to use for the branded logo in your digital media design, you may want to consider investing in a more exclusive paid font. While there’s a wealth of free fonts available online, choosing something that’s widely available to the public can dilute your brand image. Paid fonts also tend to be higher in quality than your average free display font.

Weight Considerations

The weight of a font is essentially how thick it is. When you’re considering weight for your typography, you need to balance it carefully with the graphics in your piece. Opposites attract in this area, and the right pairing will give you a stunning presentation. Offset a thick-lined heavy graphic with a lightweight font that has thin lines. If you’re using a graphic with fine lines, a heavier font will accent the imagery nicely.

You should also alter the weight for headings versus body text or captions. While the more traditional approach is to use heavier typography for headings and a lighter font for the body, you can reverse this as well. Simply make sure you’re distinguishing between heading levels in your design, particularly when you’re using the same font for multiple purposes.

Improving Readability

Readability is one of your prime concerns when you’re choosing typography for digital media. If you’re placing text over video, your viewers will have a limited amount of time to absorb what’s written. In these instances, use the cleanest simplest font possible. The more text you have in a block, the simpler your font should be.

You can indulge in more decorative display fonts for headings, subheadings, or even a few highlighted words and phrases in an infographic or other graphic design. However, you should make sure even your most heavily embellished fonts are easy to read. Have a few sets of eyes look over your lettering to make sure there are no unintentional miscommunications because of a difficult typography pick.

Influencing Emotions

Some believe typography has an emotional impact on the reader. There are some widely accepted associations that typically apply to particular types of font. Scripts are usually perceived as feminine, intimate, and earnest. Slick and modern sans serif fonts feel trendy. Bubbly fonts are playful and often childlike. Most serif fonts have a feeling of traditionalism and stability.

Highly stylized fonts can carry a broad range of emotions depending on their design. Fonts reminiscent of any highly recognizable brand will evoke many of the emotions associated with that company. This can be either positive or negative and will vary greatly depending on the audience you’re targeting. If you’re working with a highly decorative font, take time to consider the emotional associations that will accompany it. Make sure these are in line with your brand message.

Staying with Your Palette

Playing with typography is quite addictive once you dip your toe into the vast waters of decorative and design-driven options. Though you may fall in love with a dozen different fonts, it’s important that you choose just two or three for your digital media project. Playing with an overabundance of fonts will leave your finished piece looking cluttered and confusing.

Make sure the fonts that you select look good not only independently but together as well. They don’t need to match exactly, but they should complement each other. Bubbly childish typography will look out of place next to an elegant script. If you opt for a design font, pair it with a simpler classic for body text. Keep modern fonts together with other sleek modern options, and pair classic typography with similarly traditional picks. A simple yet eye-catching typography palette will keep your entire piece looking clean.

Give your typography careful consideration as you’re building your digital media design. Test various fonts with different color combinations, graphic styles, and placement. Even a minor adjustment in orientation can have a major impact on an infographic. The right typography will make it all click and give you a flawless piece that’s sure to resonate with your audience.