I was just watching a funny video about PowerPoint by Don McMillan and his comments about fonts reminded me of how much impact the font you choose has on your message.

I used to create newsletters for Ford (the motor company) and the research and development site chose Helvetica Neue as their font.  This is a nice clean, easy to read font, modern and yet not gimmicky.  The older site where they had lots of old-fashioned equipment and 1950’s style offices chose Times for their newsletter, creating a conservative, more reserved look and feel to the newsletter.  We actually showed them the front page in several different fonts so they could see what it would look like and that was how they saw themselves.

People think fonts are simply decorative, but they reflect the personality of the company they represent.  Sometimes an attempt to be ‘different’ and not use the boring old fonts everyone else uses results in a disaster.

I’ve seen web pages created using ‘Forte’ (a bold script) in an effort to look like handwriting.  Worse still, it was in white writing on a dark beige background – all that happened was it made it really tough to read.

I found a web page that was in a font that I couldn’t read at all as all the letters were placed unevenly.  I love unusual fonts, but they aren’t intended for body copy.  The occasional headline or title, yes, but not anywhere you want people to actually get your message without having to work hard.

There’s fonts that are all capitals (like Copperplate Gothic) and look nice and clear, until you consider that the letters are all the same height.  Words in sentence case have a shape and most people read the shape of the word,  words all in capitals are little blocks with no real shape, so most readers will have to slow their reading rate in order to understand.

The web is more sophisticated than it used to be, but there are still websites where a fancy font defaults to Courier (which looks like an old fashioned typewriter font).  On the web fonts that have a serif (that little line at the top and bottom of the letter) are less clear on the screen as the extra lines test the screen resolution and, consequently, tend to look slightly fuzzy.

The moral of this tale is stick to a sans serif font like Arial, Tahoma, Trebuchet or Verdana and keep your message sharp and crystal clear!


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