Jason Schneider - What The Font?


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Jason Schneider, a Toronto designer, talks about proper font usage.

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  • What the font?! Friends don’t let friends use Comic Sans. Comic Sans walks into a bar, the bartender looks at him and says ‘we don’t serve your type here.’ It doesn’t matter if you are creating a power point presentation, designing a newsletter for a local charity, or developing community-based websites, there are a few things you should keep in mind when working with fonts.
  • My name is Jason Schneider or Jay for short. I’m better known as @layoutmonkey on twitter. I have been a graphic designer for 15 years now with the main focus of my career in trade magazines for niche markets. And this is me with a pretty girl, proving that Saul Colt isn’t the only one who can get the chicks.
  • So what the font?! What IS a font anyway? By definition it is a set of characters of a specific typeface. So what is a typeface? A typeface is a set of different font styles, which can include bolds and italics while still keeping a distinct shape and style overall. But that’s so technical. To me, fonts are so much more than that.
  • A font is more than just letters and numbers. Years and years ago these guys in type foundries thought so too when they designed fonts as artistic versions of our basic alphabet. They strived to add character to each letter and as a whole would define that font as a personality. But of course they still maintained the focus of fonts, as the most powerful and direct mode of communication.
  • Fonts are very important wherever they are used because they can set the tone and feel of the information being presented. You can also use fonts to reach a particular group of people with a common interest. Or you can define your own product or service by using fonts that create an identity because of their unique character or style.
  • Here are some examples of why Comic Sans might not be the right choice to convey that sense of urgency, or importance, or even seriousness to the public. There is a reason behind the fonts used in the real versions of these. The designers considered many factors behind their font choices including the font’s personality.
  • Believe it or not, fonts have an individual personality and how or where you use them can either add to take away from your message. Take advantage of a font’s personality to create a complete visual communication piece. A specific target audience can be reached when you use fonts that suit their personality.
  • These are just a few examples of how certain fonts speak to a specific target audience. Font relation to your audience is key when deciding what font to use. Co-relating your font to your end user will only make your message that much more effective.
  • Who are you talking to? Is it a man, a woman, a child? You need to figure out who will be viewing your project, which will help you find the right font that speaks to them visually. Are your end users older or visually impaired? That will also help you decide on not only the legibility of the font but how big to make it. Something I keep in mind every day is using fonts that are easy for English as a second language end users. Creative fonts can make it harder for them to understand what you are trying to convey.
  • Now that you know who will be seeing your font choice you need to know where they will be seeing it. Is it used on a black and white, eight and a half by eleven band poster stapled to a street light post? Is it a billboard flying by them while they are driving? How much time will your end user invest in deciphering your font choice to actually read it? And YES, there is a big difference between fonts used online vs. printed material. There are a few simple rules to follow for both of these two very valuable modes of communication.
  • Let’s start by breaking down the font types starting with Serif fonts. These are the oldest fonts around dating back to Roman times where they were carved into stone. The distinguishing feature of these fonts is the serif which is the cross strokes at the tops and bottoms of each vertical line of the letter. These help guide the eye along the horizontal plane of longer passages of text.
  • The Golden Rule, Serif fonts belong on paper, not on websites. The issue is that when monitors display Serif fonts they anti-alias them or add pixels to form the serifs which ends up making the letter blurry on screen. Legibility is key so DO use Serif fonts in books, magazines and newspapers or wherever you have lots of text you want easily read. These traditional fonts can also help you be viewed as professional and important.
  • Sans Serif basically means no serifs used in the design of these fonts. They have become more popular within the last 150 years and are considered the evolution of Serif to Slab Serif to Sans Serif.
  • These fonts are so simple in their design that the straight edges work well on websites and handheld devices where low-resolution displays can handle them better. Used in print, they can add emphasis to words because of the thick and uniform lines of the letters. Sans Serif fonts tend to look sleeker and add a fresh and sophisticated look.
  • Fonts that are more decorative or artistic are commonly referred to as Display fonts and can include objects or drawings as part of their character set. These more creative fonts are used at larger sizes for best readability.
  • Using Display fonts is tricky business because you want to ensure that your message is clear so use them minimally and smartly. On the other hand a display font with a specific theme can really add that artistic flare that connects to your audience. Keep in mind that the average person can spot a cliché font a mile away and will call you on it.
  • One last area I’d like to touch on is how you can brand your product or service with the fonts you use. Think about who you are as a company, what you are selling, and to whom you are selling. This will help you to gauge which font direction you want to go. Most companies have corporate identity manuals stipulating the fonts used whenever they are referenced in ads, brochures, etc. Consistently using a font can build valuable brand awareness for you.
  • Ftw! A font that works is one that suits the information being presented. It also connects the information to the specific audience. Now that you’ve been opened up to the world of fontabilities one last thing you must remember, do NOT use too many different fonts in one place because that will only confuse your end user and your message will be lost in translation.
  • Here are a few websites that I use to find new fonts.

  • This is the only place Comic Sans belongs, in comics.

  • Jason Schneider - What The Font?

    1. 1. Who do I think I am? xD m a g k • @layoutmonkey aka Jason Schneider e y B • Graphic designer for 15 years. Z • Focusing on trade print publishing. H dew p o T nj vc s u i f L q
    2. 2. What is a font? • xD m a g k Font: a complete character set of a single e y B Z size and style of a particular typeface. • p Typeface: a set of one or more font or more sizes, designed with stylistic unity. H dew styles including bolds and italics, in one o T nj vc s u i f L q
    3. 3. A font is MORE than that! xD m a g k e y • B Z An artistic interpretation of the basic alphabet. • A character or personality. H dew p o T nj vc s u i f L q
    4. 4. Why are fonts important? • xD m They convey a feeling that underlines the message. a g k e y B • Z They can be used to speak to a specific group or community. • H dew p They can create an identity for your product oro T nj vc s u i f L q
    5. 5. xD m Why Comic Sans might NOT work. a g k e y B Z H dew p o T nj vc s u i f L q
    6. 6. Fonts add personality. • xD m a g k e The design of the font can either help or hinder y B Z your message. • advantage. dew p The individuality of a font can be used to your H o T nj vc s u i f L q
    7. 7. Personality test. xD m a g k e y B Z H dew p o T nj vc s u i f L q
    8. 8. Who is your font-dience? xD m a g k • Determine your demographic. e y B • Can they even see the font? Z • Keep the more creative fonts to a minimum when designing for ESL. H dew p o T nj vc s u i f L q
    9. 9. Where the font?! • xD m Where you use fonts also determines what e you a g k y B Z choose. • Do they have the time? • Online vs. print. H dew po T nj vc s u i f L q
    10. 10. Serif 101. • xD m a g k Serif fonts have small lines at the end of e y B Z strokes within letters, which are called serifs. • Serifs are thought to have originated in the Roman alphabet with inscriptional lettering. H dew p o T • nj vc s The conventional wisdom holds that serifs The quick brown fox jumps over the u i lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick f L q brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
    11. 11. Where to Serif? • xD m a g k Primarily in print as opposed to online dueeto y B Z anti-aliasing text becoming blurry on the low- resolution monitor. • magazines, newspapers. H dew p Where legibility is most important like books, o • Anywhere you want to convey a professional T nj vc s and traditional appearance. u i f L q
    12. 12. Sans Serif 101. xD m a g k • Sans Serif fonts are the ones that do not e y B Z have serifs at the end of their strokes. • The term Sans Serif was first coined in 1830 using the French word ‘sans’ H dew p o T T T T nj vc s u i f L q
    13. 13. Go Sans Serifing! • xD m a g k Print, online, and handheld devices e y B Z because serifs often detract from readability on the low resolution of • displays. Wherever you want to show emphasis H dew p o due to the thicker, uniform strokes. T nj vc s • Anywhere you want to convey a u i f L q
    14. 14. Display 101. • xD m a g k e Display fonts are used primarily for decorative y B Z purposes and have the most distinctive designs of all fonts. • dewH p Can incorporate pictures of objects, animals, etc. into the character designs. o • Were created for best appearance at large T nj v s u desdemonA c i Weltron Urban f L !quot;#$%&'()*+, q
    15. 15. Where to Display? xD m a g k • Anywhere you want to add artistic flare, e y B Z design elements or embellishments. • • Where the characteristics of the font are H dew thematic and complimentary to the design. Avoid cliché Display fonts that your average p o end user surprisingly knows are less T nj vc s u i f L q
    16. 16. Brand-ishing your font. • xD m Define your product or service by using a g k e y B Z specified fonts throughout your corporate identity including your logo. H dew p o T nj vc s u i f L q
    17. 17. ftw! – font that works! xD m a g k • e Have you chosen the right font for the right job? y B • Z Will your end user be receptive to your font choice? • H dew p Do you have too many different fonts in one place? o T nj vc s u i f L q
    18. 18. Looking for fonts? xD m a g k • dafont.com e y B • 1001fonts.com Z • • fontfreak.com bancomicsans.com H dew p o T nj vc s u i f L q