Proper Font Etiquette

April 26, 2017, written by Rob Prague

Your first priority in choosing a proper font for an ad should be that it matches the message or purpose of your campaign. Before you start browsing for a new one to buy or download, it’s a good idea to brainstorm some of the qualities or characteristics that you want your ad to convey. This is important because every font has its own connotations. Maybe it’s serious, playful or elegant. You’ll need to determine what a particular font is implying and whether it fits with your ad.

If the connotations the font is communicating don’t match the message of your ad, then there will be a visual disconnect for the viewers, and nobody wants that. When browsing fonts, it can be easy to get caught up in the fun and interesting choices, but don’t let personal preferences sway you; a font you think is distinctive or stylish may not be consistent or appropriate with the ad you’re working on.

Flaming Monkey Bar
children healthy eating ad
image only bridal ad 1

Context and audience.

Where and how your design will be viewed should also figure into your font choices. For instance, an ad for mobile devices will need a font that’s easily readable at a small size so consider a font that would display well on a small screen.

Who is viewing your design may also be important. Is your audience of a certain age or demographic? Will your font choice resonate with them?

When it comes to fonts, restraint is a good thing. Always remember LESS IS MORE (this goes for content too). You can achieve interest by choosing two contrasting typefaces.

The subtle mix of both serif and san-serif fonts provide a clear contrast between the heading and body copy.
*Notice the difference in sizing between different parts of the text.*

lipstick - Proper Font Etiquette

Where to Find Free Fonts

There are plenty of sites (of varying quality) that offer free font downloads. The number one thing to remember when downloading fonts is to check the license (more on this later).

Here are a few free font sources to get you started:

1) Font Squirrel: This is probably the best resource for fonts that are both free and licensed for commercial use (every single one on the site!). Includes a great selection of high-quality fonts that are searchable by classification (such as serif, san-serif, or script) or tag (such as casual, retro, or distressed).

2) Google Fonts: Created as a directory of free fonts for use on websites or other web-based projects and applications. Includes hundreds of fonts that are all Open Source (which means they can be shared, modified, customised, etc.) and optimised for the web.

Font Licensing

When you buy a font or even download a free one, it’s not necessarily yours to do whatever you like with. Always check the license of the font you’re downloading before using it. Usually, it will be licensed for personal, commercial, or educational use.

Some fonts have limits on how many times they can appear in print or online or how/if they can be distributed to other parties. Reading your font’s license is a good idea to protect yourself and/or your client. For a more technical overview, check out this introduction to font licensing from a law firm.