MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH
My obsession with words began early in life. And by that, I do not mean writing sentences and complete thoughts, but those little glyphs that make them up, otherwise known as font. I remember riding in the back of my parents’ brown 1972 Ford Pinto looking at signs and wishing I could understand what the symbols meant. Often I was found sitting with a book in my lap pretending to read, secretly all the while studying these funny symbols grouped together. I knew they were words but I had yet to develop the ability to decode them. Curse these adults and their secret language!
Even after learning how to read print, I often scribbled repeated loops in a row to mimick cursive writing. I remember the frustration of not being able to understand what I was seeing. How could these scribbles be the same words I knew how to read?
It wasn’t long, of course, until I learned cursive writing as well. Oh how I loved it! I practiced those fancy S’s and T’s & F’s were my favorite. I was disappointed that the first letters of my first and last names were so boring, but my middle name begins with L … Obviously I had a thing for loops.
One year Santa left an easel with a chalkboard on one side under the Christmas tree. Images of playing school, painting and drawing flooded my excited little brain as I ripped open the paper. It was the perfect gift for a kid who’s answer to the all pervasive question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was always the quick retort: “A Artist!” (I had yet to master proper grammar.)
My Little Secret
It was on this very easel my love for font grew. One of my favorite activities was to divide the chalkboard into segments, making a column for the left hand and a column for the right. I practiced writing my name in each segment with each hand using different fonts, though I had no idea what I was actually doing. Cursive, printing, all caps, ‘fancy’, loopy, etc., my repertoire grew over time. I was having fun, but all the while mastering handwriting.
As I got older, this activity turned into practicing signatures. I was my younger brothers’ favorite sister because of my ability to mimic my parents’ handwriting for school papers and excuse notes. (Sorry mom and dad.)
Many times throughout my life I’ve heard, “You have such pretty handwriting.” Well, now you know my secret: A lifetime of strange obsession with fonts. I even got into calligraphy for a bit. I am also known to actually write hand-written letters and mail them the old fashioned way! Serioulsy, how fun is it to get a real letter?! A lost art for sure.
What does font have to do with my business?
You must be thinking by now, “Ok Veronica, great little story… But I wasn’t a weird little kid obsessed with fonts. How does this help me? And does it really matter anyway?”
To put it plainly, it does. Don’t worry. I included some basic dos and don’ts at the bottom. (If you’re a ‘get to the meat of it’ kind of person, you can scroll down to the blue part… more on colors next time.)
Most people I talk to believe they pay little attention to font on a website. If they can read it and understand the information, it’s good enough. However, font plays a role with our psyche. One may not actually notice font (unless you are a font nerd like me), but go back and read the beginning of this sentence again. Did you put a mental accent on notice?
It is in these subtle differences that we communicate feeling and tone with nothing but text. How many times has a texting conversation turned sour because tone was misunderstood? Why do you think short hand like lol and jk, as well as the gamut of emoji’s, evolved in texting? Humans communicate with more than just words. We use tone, body language, inflections, facial expressions and, if you’re in my family, lots of hand gestures!
Fonts Matter. Maybe now you will notice a little more too.
WHAT THE HECK IS SANS-SERIF?
Plainly put, serif are the little lines on the end of letters. Generally speaking, sans serif (without the lines) is visually better for paragraph writing.
This is Serif
This is Sans-Serif
To Serif or to Sans-Serif, that is the question.
Some basic font dos and don’ts:
- Use a consistent font for each: body, headings, titles, buttons.
- Match these choices with each other, but don’t choose fonts that are too similar and may confuse your reader. Most font sites like google fonts will have suggestions for what looks good together if you are unsure.
- Limit the number of different fonts choices to no more than 3 or 4. Too many different fonts are distracting and can take away from your message
- One ‘accent’ font is a nice addition when quoting or highlighting a statement, but should be used sparingly.
- Do not use an ornate font for body paragraphs. They are typically difficult to read and distracting.
- Do use an ornate font for headings or titles. This has an especially nice effect when paired with a plain or sans-serif body font.
- Finally, make sure your font selection matches the tone you want to portray.
Imagine a Massage Therapist’s website with …
Relax and treat yourself
to our healing hands.
I don’t know about you, but I think I would avoid that place!