But what exactly is a typeface? In short, a typeface refers to the set of consistent design features and characteristics that group a particular style of lettering together. Still, feeling a bit confused? Here is our handy guide to help you better understand six of the main typefaces and their uses.
Serif typefaces can be easily recognised thanks to the strokes or lines - otherwise known as feet - which are attached to the lettering. This timeless group of fonts is undoubtedly the more traditional and classical option, with the likes of Times New Roman and Georgia two of the most popular and commonly used.
When to use a serif typeface? For legal and professional documents, formal stationery (for example wedding invitations - for those wanting a more conventional tone of voice), along with newspapers and magazines, or when you want to establish a sense of trust and authority.
Think of slab serif as a bolder and thicker version of traditional serif typefaces, with examples being Rockwell and Arvo.
When to use a slab serif typeface? If businesses want something slightly more current and modern than serif, but still want that heritage feel, they should consider exploring slab serif typefaces.
Sans serif typefaces don’t have the ‘feet’ that serif fonts do. They are simple, crisp and easy to read, with all lettering a similar width throughout. Some of the most common sans serif fonts include Arial, Roboto and Myriad Pro.
Sans serif typefaces are becoming more popular for businesses wanting a clean, approachable and modern look - with some of the most renowned businesses across the globe rebranding to use sans serif text.
When to use a sans serif typeface? If you’d like your messaging to appear more casual, informal and approachable, then consider using a sans serif typeface - particularly if you’re trying to attract a younger audience.
Script fonts often look like they’ve been handwritten, in calligraphy-style lettering, connoting beauty and grace. They can be as informal or formal as you choose, but when used correctly, will always make a strong, eye-catching statement. Examples of popular script fonts include Lucida Script and Pacifico.
When to use a script typeface? Script fonts are a brilliant option for headers, logos and pull-out quotes. However, because they can be quite difficult to read, you should avoid using script fonts within larger body texts.
Decorative typefaces - sometimes known as display fonts - combine various styles and give designers the opportunity to experiment, creating something distinctive and in some cases, dramatic. Have a look at Cooper Black, Bourton and Abril Fatface, as examples.
When to use a decorative typeface? The idea of using a decorative typeface is to catch attention thanks to its unique design. With that in mind, logos and headers provide the perfect opportunity to get experimenting - and, when used cleverly, can be great for brand distinction and boosting recognition. Like script fonts, we would advise against using decorative typefaces within large bodies of text and instead use them for main headings.
Although similar to script fonts, handwritten typefaces feel a lot more like natural, handwritten text (as the name suggests), while bringing a sense of playfulness and fun. Most people are familiar with the likes of Bradley Hand ITC and Lucida Handwriting, as examples.
When to use a handwritten typeface? Handwritten fonts can seem quite artistic and casual, which is why you’ll notice a lot of small, independent brands like local coffee shops using this typeface as part of their branding.
So many typefaces, but which one to choose?
Clearly, there are so many typefaces to choose from, so it’s understandable if you’re struggling to know which is best for your brand. And ultimately, there are no real rules when it comes to choosing the right typeface for your business. The best advice we can give is to get in touch with a professional design agency, that can help you choose a typeface that truly reflects your vision, mission and values.