3 MINUTE READ | February 22, 2012
That Four-Letter F-Word
Whether you’re writing a term paper, putting up signs for a garage sale, mailing out wedding invitations, or putting together that Powerpoint to close the deal, choosing the right font is important. Not only does it speak (very loudly, in my opinion) of your taste, but it communicates a certain consideration for your audience.
And believe it or not, there are more fonts in the world than the four or five we are accosted with day in and day out. So, the next time you are tempted to use one of these banal, hackneyed typefaces, consider a member of the new class.
You’ve heard the jokes. If you’re still using comic sans, I’m willing to bet you’ve got some pretty gnarly seasonal sweaters in your closet. And yes, we get it: Comic Sans is the wacky neighbor who lives between Courier and Edwardian Script, but it isn’t the only one who can bring the cheap beer to the party. Marker Felt, though almost just as obnoxious, is much less hated in Fontland and communicates the same relaxed and informal mood that Comic Sans tries so hard (too hard) to achieve.
A favorite of artsy high schoolers with essay woes, Courier is often used because, well, it takes up a lot of room while giving the impression that you are highly educated. It says to your audience, “I have a sensitive side because I yearn for the days of the Underwood, but I also have to meet this 2-page requirement for Comp 101.” Next time, try Bookman Old Style. You’ll find that it will still appeal to your old-world aesthetic, but it won’t be so obvious that you’re trying to turn 3-letter words into 3-inch fillers.
Preferred by entrepreneurial soap makers, low budget day spas, and gluten-free cupcakeries, Papyrus attempts to say “earthy” and “natural.” Often misapplied, we get “hard to read from afar” because of its thinness and “awkwardly spaced on my sign that I paid too much for” because of its narrow kerning. Try Codex instead. It’s highly stylized and vaguely DaVinci-esque effect is bold, unlike the unassuming and meek Papyrus. Use Codex very sparingly, though: titles and short headings only.
Sans-serif lovers breathe a collective sigh of relief when faced with easy-breezy Arial. And really, there’s nothing wrong with Arial. It’s clean, it’s classic, but it’s played. Quickly rising to the favorite font list is Calibri. It’s equally as clean, equally as smart, but slightly cuter than Arial. The rounded stems and corners really set it apart from its blocky predecessor. It’s Arial 2.0, if you will.
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I know, I know. How can I even consider replacing such a classic, the granddaddy of fonts, Times New Roman? How else can I convey my incredibly austere dissertation on the Russian novel? I’ll tell you how: with Garamond. The tiny bowl of the lowercase A and the narrow eye of the lowercase E make for a pretty sexy diphthong. Think of it as the hot librarian: serious when she needs to be, sultry when she wants to be.
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