How To Choose The Perfect Font For Any Situation

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Be honest -- how often do you think about the font you're using? You're exposed to words in all shapes and sizes on a daily basis, whether texting a friend, writing a resume, or jotting notes in your text editor of choice. But fonts convey different meanings, and if you pick the wrong one you could find yourself either dismissed for a potential job opportunity, or worse, laughed at by everyone in the office before they throw your resume in the trash.

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The good news is it's never too late to lift your font game. Here are some tips:

You Can Do Better Than Times New Roman

Everyone uses Times New Roman. It's the default font for every standard resume, book report, term paper, and any other official missive you can recall.

Sure, it looks stately, but it also looks boring, and implies a lack of intentionality. Instead, pick a similarly styled font like Garamond or Charter to show you both care about readability as well as style.

You Can't Go Wrong With Helvetica

You know it, you love it, you can't live without it, it's Helvetica! The font synonymous with great design is always a good choice if you're not sure how to proceed with your pick of typeface. "It feels professional, lighthearted, honest," Brian Hoff of Brian Hoff Design told Bloomberg. The sans-serif font is modern, weighted evenly, and used in everything from Fortune 100 company logos to the signs in the failing MTA's subway system.

Unfortunately, if you're a Windows user you'll have to actually purchase the font yourself: Microsoft created its own Helvetica clone, Arial, as it chose not to licence the famous font. In the words of Cleaver Magazine editor Remy Barnes, "For the love of God, do not send Arial."

Use Thicker Fonts for Reading on Screens

While some fonts, like Baskerville, are great for long reads on paper, they're harder to read on devices with low resolution screens. Poor screen quality means poor rendering of the font's thinnest lines, making reading more of a challenge. Use thicker fonts like Palatino and Georgia, which are better suited for screen reading, according to font designer and retired professor Charles Bigelow.

Stop With the Comic Sans Already

Under no circumstances, unless you're 8, should you use Comic Sans. Its original purpose was to act as the text for speech bubbles in Microsoft Word. Since its creation in '94 it's been used in situations ranging from websites to storefronts, no doubt leaving viewers confused and slightly distressed thanks to its uneven weighting and poor kerning.

Please licence Helvetica, Microsoft. We hate Arial.


    Please licence Helvetica, Microsoft. We hate Arial.

    Or how about you actually recommend some better open source fonts, that don't require a license?

    Whenever I'm quoting code, I use Courier. If I'm mentioning a code variable in a sentence, I use Courier Bold.

    People can get worked up about tabs & whitespace in code, and Courier keeps everything neatly lined up. Plus, it "looks" like what people used to see in terminal sessions.

    Please re title this article with something more accurate like, "How to choose a font that is at least half a century old."

    Also author, nobody uses Times New Roman. Gosh!

    I am a stickler on choosing the right font for the job, (and also checking my keming very carefully).

    That article didn't help at all. You have such a large array of open source fonts and the only advice the author could make was to ask Microsoft to licence Helvetica. Seriously. How about Open Sans, Verlag, or Montserrat.

    Rename that article as "Useless font crap for people who want to waste their time reading pointless dribble"

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