3 critical questions to ask when choosing fonts

Are you using the right fonts on your graphic design projects?

One of the most fun parts of graphic design is deciding which font to use to best compliment your graphics and the rest of your design.

I love the wide range of fonts that are available as it means that you can always find the perfect font for your project.

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Whether you’re after a swirly script font for decorative headings or a spooky Halloween font, you’re sure to find something that’s just right for your project.

But how do you KNOW when you’ve got the right font?

With thousands of fonts to choose from, it can be a little bit daunting when you aren’t sure which style to use.

Here is a handy guide on how to choose the best font for your graphic design creations.

A guide to choosing the right font for your design project

When you are deciding on a font to use in your design project, ask yourself these three critical questions:

1) Does the font suit your message?

When you are choosing a font, think about the type of message that you want to present with your text.

The same phrase can conjure up very different meanings to the reader depending on the font that you choose.

Take a look at the example below:

The importance of choosing a suitable font for your graphic design projects

Which note would you rather find waiting for you when you got home?

2) Can you easily read the font?

Readability is really important when creating your graphics.

If someone can’t easily read the text on your design then they probably won’t engage with it very well. This can have a negative impact on the effectiveness of your design.

If someone can’t read the time and date on your event poster, how many attendees do you think you will get on the day?

Examples of poor readability due to bad font choice.

In general, script fonts (swirly handwriting style) work best when they are shown large due to their complexity.

In contrast, strong block fonts like Montserrat are great to use at small sizes as the thick, simple letters make it very easy to read.

If you want to use fancy fonts in your design but still make the text readable then consider using a decorative font for your headings (as that can be made larger) and then a simple serif font for your main body text.

Fonts that are easy to read at small sizes are: Montserrat, Lato, Open Sans, Source Sans Pro, Arial, Roboto and Raleway. These can all be downloaded for free from Google Fonts.


3) Are you allowed to use the font?

Every font you download will come with licensing terms. These terms are unique to each font your download, so you need to make sure you read and understand the terms fully before you start using that font.

If you’re using a font from a free font website then you may find that the font you want to use is classed as ‘personal use only’.

As the name suggests, this means that you can only use the font for your personal project – i.e. projects that you will not make any money from.

How to check font licensing terms

So, for example example, you could use a personal use font to design invitations for your own wedding, but you couldn’t use it on invitations that you are designing for someone else (especially if you want to sell those designs).

Similarly, you could use a personal use font on a printable craft activity that you design for your child to make, but you couldn’t use that font on a printable that you sell, or that you upload to your blog as an opt-in.

If you use a personal use font on a commercial or business project then you could end up getting sued by the font creator/copyright owner for breach of copyright. You certainty don’t want that to happen!

One of the best ways to overcome this risk is by choosing premium fonts from a font website such as The Hungry Jpeg.

The Hungry Jpeg is amazing for low-cost premium fonts

Their fonts come with a commercial license which means you CAN use them in designs that you share and/or sell.

You might be thinking that sounds expensive – but it’s really not!

The Hungry Jpeg has a whole section on their website where they sell commercial-use fonts for just $1 each! That’s a small price to pay for the knowledge that you are definitely allowed to use that font in your design projects.

Check out their $1 fonts – my favourite is called Nutella; it’s SO cute!

How to choose the best font

The best thing about designing a graphic or printable in a professional graphics package like Adobe Photoshop is that it’s so easy to change your font if you find that the one you’re using isn’t really ‘working’ with the rest of your design.

All you need to do is select the text tool and then choose a different font from your library.

Just remember to answer these three critical questions before finalising your font choice:

  • Does it suit your message?
  • Can you read it?
  • Are you allowed to use it?

Once you’ve answered “yes” to all three questions, your design is ready to go!

I have to admit, I spend WAAAAAY too long trying to settle on which font to use when I’m making my designs.

That might possibly be because I have far too many fonts installed on my computer though – but I can’t help it, they’re all so pretty! 🙂