How to Choose the Right Font

If you are a web designer or want to be one, or if you are starting an online project that involves text, then you probably know that way you choose fonts is critical to the success of your project. It just has to look the right way, and the subleties of the font that you use is a critical part of the whole design equation.

There are certain font-related questions that you must ask yourself that will help you determine which font to use for your design. These include questions about whether or not you should use a serif font or a non-serif font.

Other important questions such as your overall goal for the poject and what exactly are you designing are other common questions that may help you decide exactly which font to use for your project.

The trick to choosing the right font for your project requires a combination of firm rules and loose intuition. Standing Dog guides you through the process.

What exactly is a font?
In typography, a font is traditionally defined as a quantity of sorts composing a complete character set of a single size and style of a particular typeface. For example, the complete set of all the characters for “9-point Bulmer” is called a font, and the “10-point Bulmer” would be another separate font, but part of the same font family, whereas “9-point Bulmer boldface” would be another font in a different font family of the same typeface. One individual font character might be referred to as a “piece of font” or a “piece of type”.

Font nowadays is frequently used synonymously with the term typeface, although they had clearly understood different meanings before the advent of digital typography and desktop publishing.

Different fonts of the same typeface may be used in the same work for various degrees of readability and emphasis. The weight of a particular font is the thickness of the character outlines relative to their height. There are many names used to describe the weight of a font in its name, differing among type foundries and designers, but their relative order is usually fixed, something like this:

— Hairline
— Thin
— Ultra-light
— Extra-light
— Light
— Book
— Normal / regular / roman / plain
— Medium
— Demi-bold / semi-bold
— Bold
— Extra-bold / extra
— Heavy
— Black
— Extra-black
— Ultra-black / ultra

The terms normal, regular and plain, sometimes also book, are being used for the standard weight font of a typeface. Where both appear and differ, book is often lighter than regular, but in some typefaces it is bolder.

In many sans-serif and some serif typefaces, especially in those with strokes of even thickness the characters of the italic fonts are only slanted, which is often done algorithmically, without otherwise changing their appearance. Such oblique fonts are not true italics, because they lack the change in letter shapes which is part of the definition of an italic.

There are other aspects that can differ among font styles, but more often these are considered immanent features of the typeface. These include the look of digits (text figures) and the minuscules, which may be smaller versions of the capital letters (small caps) although the script has developed characteristic shapes for them. Some typefaces do not include separate glyphs for the cases at all, thereby abolishing the bicamerality. While most of these use uppercase characters only, some labeled unicase exist which choose either the majuscule or the minuscule glyph at a common height for both characters.