Enhance Your Web Design and Publishing with These Handy Font Tips

When it comes to producing user friendly and readable applications, the fonts you use can make an enormous difference. Listed below are some of our favorite tips for getting the most out of your fonts.

  1. Make sure the intended recipient has the fonts you use loaded on his or her computer. Using standard font types will help ensure that the document will be readable on virtually any equipment.
  2. Avoid the use of fancy and rare fonts, since the end user may not have these fonts available. While in some cases these fancy fonts will be rendered correctly, there is always the possibility that the text will appear incorrectly, or not at all.
  3. Do not forget about the importance of color. Color is an important factor in the world of online and offline publishing. The right color can make an enormous difference in readability. Colors like blue and dark green tend to be very readable, while colors like light green and yellow can cause eye strain and be hard to read, especially on a light background.
  4. Always consider the color of the background when choosing fonts. When writing text for a web page, be sure to consider the color of the background. If the background color is dark, you obviously will want to go with a lighter colored font. Dark colored fonts of course will look best on white or light colored backgrounds. Always preview the text before publishing it to the live website.
  5. It is generally best to use TrueType fonts. TrueType fonts are scalable fonts that are designed to display and print smoothly no matter what the point size. TrueType fonts are supported by all Windows operating systems, and they can be easily embedded in publications.
  6. When working with Microsoft Publisher, remember that Publisher can embed TrueType fonts but not postscript or other kinds of fonts. When using other than TrueType fonts, it is important to make sure that your printer can handle those fonts.
  7. Use only high quality fonts. Using high quality fonts is the best way to ensure a clean print and a crisp, clear look. High quality fonts will provide the additional information needed by a number of different printing devices. This tip is especially important if the document will be professionally printed.
  8. Limit the number of fonts used in a single document. It is important to keep the number of fonts to a minimum. Doing so will not only make the document easier to read but easier to print and work with as well.
  9. Use bolding, underlining, italics and other enhancements wisely and sparingly. An entire document written in bold print can be straining to the eye and annoying to read. When bolding and other enhancements are used they should provide additional power to the text, and they should only be used where such power is needed.
  10. When sending a document to be commercially printed, remove any extraneous or unneeded objects. Removing unneeded text and graphics will help make the document easier to print and reduce both cost and turnaround time.
  11. Choose fonts with the website visitor in mind. When working with a commercial website, it is best to choose those fonts that will capture the attention of the visitor. Using unusual fonts, but ones that are included as part of the operating system, can be a winning strategy.
  12. Vary the size of the fonts to make text stand out. Using a large font for the heading of the page, a slightly smaller font for the subheading and a still smaller font for the text of the page is a standard format, and one that works well for many website owners. Using text of various sizes entices the visitor and engages them visually.
  13. Use cascading style sheets and templates to make your job easier. The use of cascading style sheets, templates and other tools can make it much easier to format a number of different documents. Microsoft provides a number of free templates, and there are a number of other excellent templates and style sheets available from a number of sources.
  14. Look for templates and style sheets that match your needs, but do not be afraid to alter them to your liking. Many website designers make the mistake of using off the shelf templates, and this causes their websites and pages to look the same as everyone else�s. Changing some key features can provide originality and style, while still making it easy to quickly and easily change fonts as needed.
  15. Before looking for additional fonts, look at the fonts that come embedded with the Windows or Mac operating system. Both operating systems include a number of different fonts, so there is no need to limit yourself to just a few.
  16. That having been said, be sure that the end user also has the same fonts. If you use fonts that are available with the Windows and Mac operating system you should be safe. Using fonts that do not come with the operating system could cause the text to display incorrectly.
  17. In addition to the fonts included with the operating system, Microsoft Office also includes a number of useful fonts. Be sure to check these fonts out as well.
  18. Microsoft and other vendors may make additional fonts available for free from time to time. Before buying additional fonts be sure to check for the availability of free fonts.
  19. There are a number of free font web sites on the internet as well. Be sure to look for free fonts first. When downloading fonts from free websites, however, be sure to work only with reputable companies. Like any other software, fonts can contain viruses and other harmful code. Always make sure your virus signatures are up to date before downloading any type of software.
  20. For specialized applications it may be necessary to purchase additional fonts. For instance, there are fonts that can print bar codes on mailings in order to reduce costs and decrease deliver time. These fonts may need to be purchased from a third party vendor.
  21. Always make sure your printer is capable of rendering any special fonts you plan to use. In some cases it may be necessary to install additional fonts on the printer in order to create barcodes, scientific symbols or other special font characters.
  22. Make sure the fonts you use are readable at a number of different screen resolutions. Considering the number of different sized monitors out there, from the smallest laptop screens to the largest flat screen displays, screen resolution is a huge issue. It is important to test the text at several different screen resolutions, from the lowest to the highest, to make sure the text is legible and pleasant to read.
  23. Make sure the text quality is acceptable even at a low color depth. While most display adapters and monitors are capable of rendering millions of different colors, some computer users may have their color depth set very low. It is important that the fonts you choose look good no matter what color depth is being used.
  24. Consider using different fonts within the same font family, as opposed to changing to a different font within the same document. If you want a particular passage or piece of text to stand out, you may want to change from Arial to Arial Black, for instance. This will provide a consistent look and feel, while at the same time getting the attention of the reader.
  25. Avoid changing fonts in the middle of a page. A sudden change of font can be very jarring to the reader, and it should be avoided. In order to make text stand out, use enhancements, such as bolding, underlining, italics and the like.
  26. Use a consistent font family throughout the various pages of your website. All pages of a website should have a consistent look and feel, even if the pages cover different topics. If the design of one page of the website is markedly different, visitors may incorrectly believe they have clicked away from the original site.
  27. When designing a new website, make your font choice easier by using one of the many freely available web design and font templates. These templates can help you design a user friendly site and choose the right fonts.
  28. When working in Microsoft Word, give the auto-format feature a try. This feature does not always provide the desired results, but at times it can be a real time saver.
  29. Try your hand at designing your own fonts. Many webmasters find that they can achieve excellent results by designing and using their own custom fonts. There are a number of excellent tutorials on the web and elsewhere that explain how to create winning fonts.
  30. When working with embedded and commercial fonts, remember that copyrights and trademarks may apply. Always be sure you read and understand any applicable copyright or trademark notices before altering, selling or reusing fonts.
  31. In order to get the correct relationship between the pixels on the computer screen and those on the printed page, it is best to specify font size in pixels instead of in points. A ten pixel font may not be the same as a ten point one, so set up your software to work in pixels.
  32. When setting up your image editor or publishing package to work in pixels, use the standard setting of 72 ppi (pixels per inch). This is the de facto standard for desktop publishing and web design applications.
  33. Be careful of how your fonts display when changing the paragraph style to centered or justified. Some fonts will appear unnaturally stretched when the paragraph is justified, while others may appear squeezed when the paragraph is centered. Be sure to look at your font in a variety of different formats, as the end user may wish to display the text differently.
  34. Choose TrueType pixel fonts for use in Flash and similar applications. When the Flash file is published, it will convert the fonts to vector shapes, ensuring that the fonts will be available on the end user�s screen.
  35. When designing web pages or publishable documents, be sure to keep the contrast between the background color and the text itself as high as possible. Black text on a white background works well, as does white text on a black background.
  36. Black is generally considered to be the most readable color for text, followed by red. If neither of these colors work with the background you have, look for a color that will be easily legible without being jarring or causing eye strain.
  37. Using traditional fonts such as Times New Roman, Time Roman, Futura and Verdana will result in a more user friendly and easily readable document. Using these standard fonts will also help to ensure that end users are able to read the document as intended, no matter what type of equipment they are using.
  38. In general a serif font will be easier to read than a san serif font. Keep this fact in mind as you write and design your website content.
  39. Keeping large white margins around the text on a website generally provides a cleaner and crisper appearance. This type of layout makes the document easier to read and can provide a greater impact.
  40. Mini fonts are useful for specific applications, such as menus, navigation toolbars, banner ads, captions and the like. Using fonts like Verdana, Arial and Geneva has a number of important benefits, including lower space requirements and easy resizing.
  41. If you design your own fonts and embed them as images, remember that the search engines will not be able to read those images. If you include important keywords in those fonts, be sure to use a tag to embed those keywords where the search engines can find them.
  42. If you are unsure how a particular font will look on the printed page, use the print preview feature of your application. Most modern word processing, web design and desktop publishing packages include this feature. It is of course still important to actually print the page to make sure that the quality is acceptable and the font looks like you intended.
  43. Remember that less is often more. Overwhelming the website visitor with a plethora of fancy fonts, bold typefaces and large letters can backfire and cause visitors to leave the site.
  44. Consider the nature of your site as you choose fonts. For instance, a website designed for and aimed at the business community will obviously require a different look and feel than one aimed at children or teenagers. The fonts you use should reinforce the basic message you are trying to achieve with your website content.
  45. Once you have found a font style that suits your needs, be sure to save the page as a template. Many web design, word processing and desktop publishing packages allow users to create and save their own templates. Taking this step will help you to avoid duplicated effort when it is time to design a similar site.
  46. Look at what others have done. While copying a website or piece of content is always wrong, there is nothing wrong with taking a look at some of your favorite sites to see what kinds of fonts and styles they use. Web designers can learn a great deal simply by looking at the style and layout of established and successful web based businesses.
  47. Consider what you like. When designing for the web or publishing documents, consider what you like when you visit a website. While everyone�s taste will vary, designing your pages with your likes and dislikes in mind is a good business practice.
  48. Always choose your fonts with the website visitor or reader in mind. While you may personally love those flowing script style or old English typefaces, reading pages of text written in those fonts can be frustrating and difficult. You may want to consider using a fancy font or different typeface for the first letter, then reverting to a more readable style for the rest of the document.
  49. Strive to capture the attention of the visitor by using eye catching fonts. It is important to capture the attention of the website visitor quickly, so be sure to use fonts that are likely to get attention. Making judicious use of bolding, underlining and header fonts can help a great deal as well.
  50. And finally, have fun as you write. Writing content for your website, and choosing the right fonts, can be a great deal of fun. Choosing the right fonts is a great way to express your creativity and let your fun side out. Be creative, be innovative, and have fun.