Fonts like clothing for your words

In the same way that you can make yourself stand out with the clothes you wear, you can customize your documents and maximize their effectiveness simply by “dressing them up” with an appropriate font. And like clothing, the font you choose can affect people’s perception so it’s important to choose wisely. When it comes to variety, the Internet is a virtual dress-up box for text; there are fonts available for any type of document, whether your goal is to make it look professional, whimsical, or somewhere in between.

To determine what font is best to reach that goal, you must first look over your options. There are many high-quality commercial fonts available to download for very little money. If you’re on a tighter budget, though, you can easily find free fonts. Just type “fonts” or “free fonts” into any search engine and you will be rewarded with a multitude of sites hundreds of thousands of fonts for the taking.

Narrowing your choices down may be a bit more difficult. First, consider what type of feeling you want to convey to the reader. If you’re looking for a professional tone, for example, you may want to use a more traditional font such as Times New Roman or Helvetica. Using a more fanciful font, such as Curlz or Jester, may not convey the type of professionalism you desire; the reader won’t take it as seriously as a more conservative font.

Another factor to consider when choosing a font is whether you prefer serif or sans-serif. “Serif” simply means that the characters have small decorative lines added to their basic form, such as Times New Roman. Arial and Helvetica (Arial is shown here) are two well-known examples of sans-serif fonts (sans-serif is French for “without serif”). Research has shown that serif fonts provide easier readability; the vast majority of newspapers and magazines use these types of fonts. Sans-serif fonts are thought to convey a more modern feel. They’re often made bigger and used for headlines, while the body of the text is done in a serif font. For text that will be displayed on the Internet, a sans-serif font may be easier to read, especially if it’s small; serifs may blend together and make distinguishing between letters a little more difficult.

The best way to choose the perfect font for your document is to grab a key word or sentence from the text one of the main points of the document and “try on” several different fonts to see which typeface best expresses the tone you’re trying to capture. Also keep in mind the ease of readability, the desired size of the text, and whether the document is meant to be printed onto paper or read on a computer screen. If you’ll be using more than one font, make sure they complement each other; using two completely different and contrasting fonts is like mixing plaids and polka-dots; it just doesn’t work, and will end up looking haphazardly thrown together.

A good rule of thumb is never to use more than two fonts, one for headlines or titles and the other for the body of the text. And make sure that the design of the font coordinates with the subject of the text; for example, you wouldn’t want an old-fashioned calligraphic headline on a piece about robotic technology in the 21st century.

Like the perfect outfit, a font can make a statement and provide a favorable impression. Dress your words for success!