Printing Basics: Font Tips and Tricks

When designing any kind of print advertising, there are a number of important considerations when selecting the right fonts.  Font selection can make the difference between interesting and boring printed materials.  More importantly, proper font selection can improve or hinder readability.  In this article, we discuss basic font selection techniques as well as a couple of ways that you can experiment to create different effects.
Font families
For the uninitiated, there are two general families of fonts: serif and sans serif.  Each general family of fonts has a specific use.  While these rules can be broken, it is better to understand why each font family would be used in different situations.
Serif fonts, such as Times New Roman, have small elements, often referred to as flags, across most of the letters in the alphabet. Do not underestimate the importance of serif fonts.  In large or long passages of text, serif fonts can make all the difference between a passage that is easy to read and a passage where your readers will strain their eyes.
Sans serif fonts, such as Arial, do not include these small connecting elements.  The letters are generally much more straight or rounded.  You should use sans serif fonts when you need to make a bold statement, such as headlines, titles, or subheadings.
Font sizes
For most printed materials, there are a few ranges of font sizes that should be used.  Printing fonts that are too large look amateurish, and printing fonts that are too small can be difficult to read.  The trick is to find that perfect balance.
Long passages of text should be printed in a 10-14 point font size.  Much smaller will make the reader have to squint, but much bigger can crowd the white space on the page.  For headlines, there is much more flexibility, so try font sizes ranging from 18 to 28 points.  Sub-headings should be between your copy font size and your title font size.  Try 14-18 point fonts and do not be afraid to italicize or bold sub-headings to visually separate them from copy and headlines.
Bold headlines
Now that you understand the basics of font families, you can experiment with interesting font types to make certain elements more interesting and eye catching.  Consumers are pretty familiar with basic font types, so do not be afraid to push the envelope when it comes to titles and headlines especially.
It is important that your readers can clearly distinguish the words.  Do not print with overly complicated fonts at the expense of readability.  Your customer should be able to read a headline a long distance away. This is why titles and headlines are so much larger than the rest of the body of text.  You hope to grab the reader’s attention with a headline, drawing them closer so they can read the rest of your content.
Clear sub-headings
While not as bold as titles, yet bigger than the rest of your content, sub-headings are used to break up large passages of copy.  Think of sub-headings as miniature headlines - they can tell the reader what the following paragraphs will talk about.  Sub-headings should almost always be included if you have more than four paragraphs of copy.  Readers use subheadings to quickly find the information they need.
Final point
Font selection is essential for interesting easy-to-read printed materials.  With these guidelines in mind, you can experiment until you find something that looks interesting to you.  Just do not choose interesting fonts at the expense of readability.

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