How many fonts do you think exist in the world? That’s a trick question because the internet can’t even agree on a number between 200,000 and half a million. One thing we know for sure is that there are a lot of fonts available to your marketing a design team for every project. This makes it tricky for even the best decision-makers to pick just the right typography for every image. Today, we’re looking at how to pick the right fonts for infographics and why it even matters:
Font choice matters for infographics for the same reason every other marketing campaign choice you make matters. If you want people to pay attention to your content and take action, you have to not only capture that attention but also convince people the content is worth their time. Infographics are visual. Making sure they’re dynamic and eye-catching is the way to capture that attention. The combination of text, images, color, and other related elements works to make that happen.
The font is one of the most important aspects of the infographic because it sets the scene and tells the data story in the content. From the headings to the captions, the words create the hierarchy and pull the readers’ eyes from section to section. If the font is confusing, illegible, or misses the mark, the other elements of an infographic won’t be enough to keep your audience’s interest.
Use these tips to help you narrow down font choices for your next infographic project:
If you already have fonts associated with your brand, that’s a great place to start when selecting typography for your infographic. Using fonts already associated with your company gives a branded feeling to your visuals. Even if your company name or logo is just a small dot in the corner of the infographic, your audience can tell who made it just by the font.
Fonts are a powerful brand recognition tool. The more you use them, the more people will associate them with your company and recognize them in the wild. This typically only works for unique or creative fonts, though. You won’t be able to lay claims to a font like Times New Roman because it’s too common.
Have you ever bought a piece of clothing online that looked great on the model? Then when it arrived and you tried it on, that same piece looked completely wrong on you. The same thing can happen with fonts for your infographic projects. Just because you see a font in a list or on another infographic around the internet doesn’t mean it’ll look right for your project.
The easiest way to decide if the font that caught your eye works with your design is to try it out. Add the font to your design program, if possible, and create a draft using it at one or two key points such as in the heading or one line of a text caption.
If the font looks good, you have a winner. If it doesn’t, try adjusting the size, adding font styles, changing the color, or fixing the spacing to see if it looks better. The little alterations can help make your font more readable, but if they don’t, you’ll have to pick another.
With so many fonts to choose from, it can be tempting to want to use as many as you can within one project. But remember, your team is going to create many great infographics with different purposes. There will be time to use all the exciting fonts, but not within one design.
Instead, stick to one font palette for each project. Use one font for the headings and one for the body text. You may include a third font for additional emphasis in certain cases. Pick where you want each font to go, and the size, style, and spacing for each area of the infographic. You may even create a template for the team like the one below to show them where each font goes. Templates may help if you plan to do a series with individual but related infographics.
Image via Visme
One of the primary purposes of text and its font in an infographic is to set a hierarchy for the information. The title and subtitle of the piece are the most important and eye-catching. That means those pieces should have the largest and most interesting or attractive fonts for the entire piece. From there, headings and subheadings are the next most important text, followed by body text, and then image captions and sources or footnotes.
As each section becomes less important, the fonts get smaller; They stand out less and have a less important presence on the page. After you set the hierarchy with your font palette, follow it throughout the infographic. Don’t make a random word in the caption four sizes larger than the rest of that text. Instead, use font styles–like bolding, italics, and underlining–to emphasize information in smaller fonts, if necessary.
If you’re trying to decide if a new font you just found is the right one for your infographic project, answer these questions to pick the best one from your choices:
There are four primary font types. They include:
These are the most legible and versatile fonts out of all the ones available. If your font goal is readability and clarity, and it should be, your font should fit in one of these categories. Novelty fonts aren’t your best choice and if you ever use them it should be sparingly and with a very targeted purpose.
You wouldn’t put a corny joke in the middle of a business presentation, so why would you use a playful font for a serious infographic? Fonts do more than just let words show up on a page. Each one has its own personality, feeling, or mood.
Fonts with many straight lines come across as more serious, while curves have a playful feel. Thick cursive loops feel elegant or ornate. You need to match these feelings and moods with the tone of the project. For example, sans serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica are the right choices for neutral projects, like comparing the features of two of your closely related products or services.
Image via Visme
The audience is just as much of an influence on the font choice as the project type. Font choices have to take both factors into consideration to hit the mark. Let’s say you’re still creating an infographic that compares two of your products or services, but the target audience is kids, not adults. In this situation, you can get away with using some more relaxed or fun fonts rather than something strictly sans serif.
Your audience demographics may also tell you what fonts not to use. If your audience is children, you may avoid any overly script-like or cursive fonts because they can’t read cursive yet.
If you already have icons and visuals in mind for your infographic before you pick fonts, make sure they all work together to convey the right message. There should be a bit of contrast or give and take between your fonts and your images. When one is more dynamic, the other should be more reserved. For example, minimalist icons look best when paired with bold headings.
Not every font or typeface supports special characters, like those above the numbers on your keyboard. Some fonts also don’t support special characters necessary for writing in different languages, such as tildes or umlauts. If you plan to use special characters in your infographic or translate the text into another language, check that the font supports these characters before you start the work.
A font pair is a group of two fonts or font styles, like bold and italic, that you use for a specific purpose. Just like a color palette, your font pairs must work well together to convey information to your audience. They can’t clash or work against each other because that could confuse the reader or viewer.
In most projects, your pair includes one more decorative font for headings and subtitles and another more traditional font for body text. It’s more difficult to pick the second font for the pair. It may take some testing and experimentation to get the right combination for each project.
If people can’t read the font, it’s a bad choice. Period. The readability of a font depends on the size, line spacing, and sometimes even the color. Some fonts are perfectly readable at size 72, but not at size 12, or in black but not yellow. And just because a font isn’t legible for one project or section doesn’t mean it won’t work in another.
The only way to know for sure if the font is readable is to test it out. Try the font in the size and color you want to use within your project. Even if you think it’s readable, you might be biased because you like the style. Get the full team’s opinion of the mock-up to find out if it’s readable. If it’s not, pick another option.
We’re going to let you in on a little secret: there are no bad fonts. You read that right. There are no wrong fonts, despite what your graphic designers may say about how much they hate Comic Sans or how Times New Roman is “too basic” to make an impact. It’s more important to match your fonts with the infographic’s purpose and the audience rather than worrying about what’s good, bad, or cliche.
You’re never going to use Comic Sans for an infographic you want people to take seriously, such as one you’ll use at the biggest board meeting of the year. But that doesn’t make Comic Sans a bad font. It’s not one you should never ever use in any project. Read the room, the same way you would when choosing angles for written articles, or picking the right meme for social media content. Avoid fonts that don’t fit the tone or sentiment you want to convey to your audience.
All these tips and suggestions lead to the question of how you pick the right font for your infographic. But the idea that there’s one perfect font for your project limits your creativity. There isn’t one font that will automatically make your audience pay attention and remember everything you include in your visuals. Picking a good font for each project comes from understanding the psychology of typography, which we’ve discussed here.
Most times, your team also has font limitations based on the design programs available and the fonts included within them. Using a canned design program like Canva provides a certain number of options, while programs like Photoshop or Illustrator let you choose from the Adobe font library and download new selections for specific projects. There’s also the potential for your team to create its own fonts with tools like Illustrator, Calligrapher, or FontStruct.
That’s why we’re not giving you a list of the best fonts for your projects. Not all fonts are available for all devices, programs, or projects. You have to pick from the available options, not all the options in the world. Rather than stressing about finding the perfect font choice, rely on what you know about the project and your audience. Trust your design team’s abilities and creative vision. Thankfully, most infographics live online rather than in print. That makes it easier to make a quick font change and reupload the file if you need to make adjustments.
CopyPress customers don’t have to worry about picking the right fonts for their infographics. With access to our custom design services and graphic design team, we handle font selection for our clients, with as much or as little involvement or input in the decision-making process as you’d like. We also help you create a living brand style guide for all your projects with CopyPress so we create each piece right, every time. If you’re interested in learning about how font choice is a critical part of your brand image, download our eBook about creating a style guide for your company.
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