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Choosing Typefaces

The following is designed to help you choose your typefaces. Some inspirational sites, articles, and an excellent transcript from a presentation by Jason Santa Maria.

Inspiration

Beautiful Web Type

A showcase of the best typefaces from the Google web fonts directory.

Discover.typography by H&Co

A showcase of the best typefaces from the Google web fonts directory.

Fonts In Use

An independent archive of typography.

Open Foundry

A new platform for open-source fonts in a noise-free environment; to highlight their beauty and encourage further exploration.

Typekit Gallery

A collection of sites we like using fonts from Typekit.

Typewolfe

What's trending in type.

Web Design Ledger and Webdesigner Depot

A search for "fonts" results.

Articles

“What Font Should I Use?”: Five Principles for Choosing and Using Typefaces (12/14/10)

A Brief Primer on Typeface Selection (08/25/11)

6 Questions You Should Ask Yourself When Choosing Fonts (12/01/11)

Make a Statement with Type (09/26/12)

10 Typekit Fonts Every Designer Should Sync to Their Desktop (05/14/14)

Selecting TYPEFACES for body text (09/04/14)

Mobile

5 Tips for Excellent Mobile Typography (10/02/11)

Mobile typefaces have a lot in common with Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Everything needs to be just right. To look best on a small screen and be readable at a smaller size, the best font has the following 5 qualities...

Mobile Design Typography is Vitally Important ... and Challenging (11/12/12)

One of the emerging challenges for web designers is creating web typography that works in the mobile environment as well. But it can be difficult, and there are many things to consider. The keys are to focus on readability, contrast, space and responsiveness.

iOS Fonts

A Place for Happy Typography (includes links to Android and Windows Phone 7 default typography.)

Jason Santa Maria On Web Typography

Jason Santa Maria, in a presentation at Build 2011 called On Web Typography spoke about picking typefaces. I've transcribed it here in part and slightly paraphrased:

  • Questions to ask yourself: What are you using it for? How will it be used? Under what conditions? From the slide "considerations":

    Dimensions – Are there requirements for how much text must fit in a given region?

    Special Features – Do you require special features your typefaces What features do you require? Multiple weights, lining & old-style figures, small caps, etc?

    Prolonged Reading – Is this a book or a long format periodical?

    Internationalization – Does a given font support all the special characters of the language to be used?

  • Readability and distinctness in characters matters. Will the typeface cause the reader to become confused, or tired of reading it?

  • Avoid readymades. Fonts with design baked in.

  • Develop your own personal palette. Find typefaces that you like, that you gravitate to, and keep using them. Get to know a typeface.

  • Get to know the history of a typeface. When was it designed? Why was it designed? This should complement not contradict your text/subject.

  • Find typefaces that embody a mental association: terms you want to associate with the design.

  • Pair fonts that are designed together, they will work well together. The serif for the body text, the sans serif for the supplementary stuff like page numbers and captions.

  • Use alternatives for commonly used typefaces get the same type of feel without being the same as everyone else. For example Helvetica. You can use an alternative rather than the frequently used Helvetica itself: FF Dagny, Proxima Nova, Museo Sans, Prehematica Slabserif.

  • Try it out! Test out your ideas. See how it looks. See how it reads. See how it feels. In long-form text, in short-form text. Small columns, wide columns. Big text, small text. Doing this gives you a very real impression on how other people are going to see it.

Jason Santa Maria's copyright.