Choosing the right font is essential for defining your brand, but with thousands of fonts available, it can daunting to figure out which ones to pick.
You shouldn’t pick a font that “looks pretty” or “stands out.”
Choosing a font style serves 2 main purposes. First, it helps your reader read. Second, it sets the tone for the message you want to communicate.
If your font is difficult to read, you’ve already failed. That should be the easy part. What’s more difficult is finding a font that matches your brand’s identity.
I’ll share some resources that will help you find the right fonts, but first let’s get some basics down on the font types that are available.
Different Font Types
Serif – Serif fonts have the little hooks on the ends of the letters, which are called serifs. They usually help with reading faster on print. Serif fonts communicate a more traditional, classic, and established feeling.
Sans Serif – Sans serif fonts don’t have the hooks on the end. They are popular to use on websites because they give more clean and modern feel.
Script – Script fonts resemble handwriting and cursive, and are usually defined by loops and connecting letters. Depending on the style, they can range from fun to elegant.
Decorative / Display – These are fonts that tend to stand out more. They’re usually not very easy the read in long sentences, but could be helpful in making a single word noticeable.
Have an idea of what types of fonts you want to use? Good, here are some places to find them for free.
Free Font Directories
This is my go to resource for free fonts. They have hundreds of fonts that you can filter and sort by style, variations, boldness and other features. The great thing about Google fonts is that they are all web-friendly. They provide an easy embed code so you don’t have to upload the font to your website.
Font Squirrel provides hundred of fonts that you can use for free, even for commercial projects. It doesn’t host the font, so you can’t direct link to it like Google and will have to download and upload it to your website. They also have a handful of paid fonts as well.
dafont has thousands of fonts that are uploaded by individuals. You can find some really creative ones here if you’re doing print design, but I wouldn’t recommend it for web. Also, not all fonts are the best quality, so you need to have a bit of an eye for good typography.
What Font is That?
Sometimes you see a font on a website or graphic design piece that you really like, but you don’t know what it is. These tools will help you find that font or a close variation
This tool lets you upload a picture of where you see your font and will try to identify it for you. If you see it on a website, just take a screenshot of the text and upload it.
This tool also lets you upload an image of your font and will try to identify it. It takes an extra step to have you identify individual letters in your image to get a more accurate analysis.
If the other tools can’t identify your font, then this site will help you find it by asking you a series of questions about each letter in your font. You’ll need a fairly good sample size – usually a paragraph will do. There are 14 total questions, but you should get close to finding your font around questions 6 or 7.
Font Pairing & Combinations
A lot of brands will use a single font for their identity, and simply use thickness and size to differentiate between headings and paragraph text. But other brands will have a primary font and an accent font, or a heading font and paragraph font.
Being able to combine 2 fonts together is difficult, because they need to compliment each other and together create your brand identity. These resource will help give you a few ideas.
Font Pair focuses on heading and body font combinations. It let’s you select from style combinations (Sans-Serif/Serif, Serif/Serif, etc…) and gives you possible combinations. You can also search for a specific font and see what other fonts it can be paired with. It’ll also show you a demo of it, which you can edit and put in your own text to see how it’ll look.
Type Genius takes font pairing examples from real life. You start off by entering the font you want start with. It then gives you example font pairing from actual websites and you can see how they are used.
Font flame calls itself the “Tinder for font pairing.” It starts by showing you a font pairing, and you can choose “love” or “hate.” Then it keeps showing you more. You can then see all the font pairings you “loved” and choose which one you want. They also have curated and trending font combinations to browse through.
Selecting a good font is difficult, but selecting a good font pair is even harder. When choosing a font for your brand or campaign, focus first on readability, then worry about style. Looking at other examples of others will help, along with these resources.
If you can get your fonts and colors to compliment each other well, you’ll have a powerful brand that people will not forget.