Whether you’re about to create your business logo and website for the very first time, or you’re in the midst of a major advertising campaign via large format signage or window graphics, it’s essential to select the right font.
Some of the most beautiful fonts are often the most difficult to read or scan, having a negative impact on your business’s bottom line. Knowing which fonts are proven to be “easy on the eyes” ensures your audience can read the text – from advertising to website content –without straining their eyes.
Graphic Design Fonts: 101
Before we launch into the easiest-to-read fonts, it’s important to understand a bit about fonts in general. There are several ways that those of us in the font business categorize different font types. These categories include things like:
Proportion or Font Anatomy
Font anatomy looks at the whole font and how it takes up space – mostly in terms of proportion. Some of the terms we use to describe fonts include:
These anatomical parts are used within set proportions and space(s) on a page. For example:
- Baseline: This is like the bottom line of lined paper – it’s the line that the bulk of the font’s letters “rest” on.
- Cap line or height: This is like the top line of lined paper. This is the line that all of the capital letters stop at.
- X-height/meanline: the height of the lower case letters (minus their extensions, such as the left-vertical stroke of the “h” or the “b.”
- Ascender: The line the extensions of a lower-case letter reaches up to – such as the aforementioned “h” and “b”. This is often the same as the cap line or height, but not always.
- Descender. Similarly, some lower-case letters stretch below the baseline, such as “g” or “y,” and the line where they stop is the descender.
So, some fonts would be discussed or prioritized by where they fit or how they appear proportionally – from descender to ascender. Fancier, less consistent fonts would be used in short form – like a huge title of an upcoming event, while the supporting text would follow more consistent anatomical font rules.
Different font categories
All of the variety of fonts offered to you in standard wordprocessing documents fall into one of four major font categories:
- Serif. Considered a classic, Serif fonts have little feet of some kind at both the letter bottoms or tops. They emerged during the 1400s, and have been used regularly ever. Because of their “stately” footed appearances – Serif fonts are often used for titles and subtitles, or long pages of text, like in a novel. Times New Roman is an example of a serif font.
- Sans Serif. Sans Serif is the opposite of serif fonts – no feet. Just like traditional design eradicated superfluous trim, the san serif fonts are more contemporary and minimalist in nature. They came onto the printing scene somewhere between the mid-18th and early 19th centuries. Sans Serif fonts are favorites for logos, headlines and for paragraph text online or in print because of their legible accessibility. Arial is an example of a sans serif font.
- Script. As its name implies, script fonts are designed to replicate cursive or more flowing, flowering handwriting. There’s also an element of “classiness” as well as warm familiarity to script-inspired fonts, which emerged during the 17th and 18th centuries. That being said, they’re much harder to read in bulk – so other than logos or more formal invitations or themed-promotional materials, you won’t see many websites or ad campaigns using a whole lot of script-based fonts, but they look beautiful in other applications. Bradley Hand is an example of a script font.
- Display fonts. Display fonts can fall into any one of the above three categories but have less rhyme or reason. They’re catchy, fun, their proportions may not stick consistently to those anatomical font regions we listed above, etc. Display fonts offer a unique look – and are more suited to logos, a themed show title, or a single phrase on a banner. Goudy Stout is an example of a display font.
We should also mention that as with the colors you choose for advertising, the fonts you select affect the mood or energy associated with the text or first-impression of the content.
The Most Legible and Easy Fonts to Read
Now that you’ve learned some basics about fonts, you’ll be able to see why these are the top 10, most legible fonts. While you can get more creative than these 10 in your logos, vehicle wraps, or advertisements in shorter words or phrases, these are the fonts you’re going to prioritize when creating new website content, for key contact information on vehicles or roadway signage, or for billboard adds that are read at 70 mph or more…
- Georgia. This is a good happy medium between a serif (which it is) and a sans serif because Georgia is just fancy enough to appear more decorative than it is. It was designed by Microsoft specifically for low-resolution purposes, making it ideal for mobile and desktop users.
- Helvetica. Here’s another “easy-to-read” font that has a more decorative or classic look – without convoluting the white space.
- Open Sans. This font is Google’s favorite because it’s so versatile for both screen and print formats, making it a consistent choice for branding.
- Verdana. This font, like Georgia, was intentionally designed for computer screens. It’s another sans serif, and most website experts agree that Verdana is one of the easiest for the eyes to scan on a screen.
- Rooney. This font has a less classy, and more fun feeling, which can enhance branding. A designer named Jan Fromm designed the curvy font for just this reason – to convey feelings of warmth, cheer, and fun.
- PT Serif. Sometimes, it’s hard to decide between a serif and a sans serif. In that case, ParaType (PT) fonts are the solution. PT Serif is a serif and you could have some of your print formatted this way…
- PT Sans. …While PT Sans offers the same basic font style but without any adornment. You may even decide to use a combination at times, depending on the overall effect you’re going for.
- Quicksand. This font was designed by Google and based on geometrical shapes, which gives it a unique but accessible look.
- Lato. This is one of our favorite fonts. Lesser-used by mainstream companies, Lato would be a good choice for a newer brand, and the font has the combination of being strong and confident, while also having an artistic warmth.
- Futura. Futura is another geometrically-inspired font, but it emerged at the end of the 1920s. We appreciate that it works in both casual and more formal settings. Futura always has a clean aesthetic, which makes it readable.
Would you like professional assistance selecting easy-to-read, brand-centric fonts for your upcoming event or promotional project? Contact us here at SpeedPro East Bay.