The first rule of choosing display typefaces is to make an appropriate choice – appropriate to the delivery vehicle, content and reader.
Appropriate to Delivery Vehicle
The most appropriate display typeface for a small print environment will probably be a different design than one that is best for a large print environment. And neither of these might be appropriate for display copy on screen or in slide presentations.
The best font for presentation graphics, for example, is a sans serif (because it is more legible than a serif design), bold weight (to enable a high level of visibility) of somewhat condensed proportions (to obtain the maximum number of words in the smallest space).
Typefaces for on-screen use should also have large x-heights and open counters. Large x-heights will take the best advantage of the limited screen pixels. The more decorative a design, however, the more problematic it becomes for Web sites and blogs. Very fancy or ornamental designs such as the Arriba-Arriba™ or ITC Wisteria™ typefaces might make excellent choices for posters and brochures, but they would probably not be the best choices for display type on screen. Slightly less fancy – but equally commanding – designs like the Dreamland™ and Pueblo™ typefaces would be better choices.
Newspapers, which are almost always read under less than ideal circumstances, require sturdy, industrial strength designs such as the Egyptian Slate™ or ITC Franklin™ typefaces for headlines, while a catalog for women’s clothing would do better with a more supple design like ITC Berkeley Oldstyle™ typeface. The same Berkeley Oldstyle, however, might not be the best choice for a web page banner, while the ITC CuppaJoe™ design might be.
Appropriate to Message
A catalog announcing a new line of Hawaiian shirts should use different typefaces than a brochure for women’s lingerie; and announcements for a new, quarterly law journal report will be best served by yet different typefaces.
For that Hawaiian shirt announcement, a combination of the ITC Puamana™ and DIN Next™ typefaces might be a good choice. The women’s lingerie might benefit from headlines set in the Pouty™ script typeface and text copy using part of the ITC Galliard™ family. The law journal? Try heads in the bold weight of the Felbridge™ typeface and text in the ITC Legacy™ Serif typeface family.
Appropriate to Audience
It’s a pretty safe bet that counter-culture display faces like ITC Panic™ and ITC Schizoid™ designs will not appeal to an over-60s reader or that the Elegy™ or Diotima® Classic typefaces would resonate with a potential customer for skateboards. Typefaces like the Artistik™, Neuland™ and ITC Kick™ typefaces can be great display choices – but probably not for the readers of the quarterly financial reports of an international banking firm.
Tags: arriba-arriba, artistik, din next, diotima classic, dreamland, egyptian slate, elegy, felbridge, fonts, itc berkeley oldstyle, itc cuppajoe, itc franklin, itc galliard, itc kick, itc legacy serif, itc panic, itc puamana, itc schizoid, itc wisteria, neuland, pouty, pueblo, typefaces