Finding the Best Font for Print Publications
When creating a print publication such as an annual report or policy report, give your font selection as much consideration as you give content, copy, and image choices. A carefully thought-out type plan will serve to convey your report’s message without drawing too much attention to the typefaces themselves. You don’t have to be an expert in typography to make wise choices, as type has been around a long time, giving you plenty of examples to draw from. Remember when choosing the best font for print publications that the main purpose is to offer readability and legibility to easily convey a message; your type should facilitate—not distract from—that message.
If you want to give off an air of traditional class and authority, you might opt for a serif font. These tried-and-true typefaces are easy to read, taking advantage of their serifs—the small, decorative strokes at the end of a character’s main stroke—to guide the eye from one character to the next. One of the most common serif fonts is Times New Roman. Publications with lots of text, from textbooks to newspapers and novels, often employ serif workhorses such as Century, Adobe Garamond, Bookman, or Baskerville. If you want to show that your organization is trustworthy, serious about its mission, and all business, you can’t go wrong with one of these.
However, if you want to show that your organization has a lighter side and can be modern, fun, and less formal, you might opt for another sans serif font. These typefaces often seem friendlier because they tend to have more whitespace within each letterform, and their lack of serifs makes them a little less stuffy feeling. For sans serif examples, check out the type families of Gotham, Nimbus, Proxima Nova, or the ever-reliable Helvetica.
You’ll want to avoid having too many different typefaces in one publication, but you will want to mix things up a bit. A great way to introduce font variety is to create different looks for your header and body copy. Add variety by using different styles or weights—italic, bold, light, heavy italic—of the same type family. For instance, you could put your headers and subheads in varying weights of Gotham Condensed and style the body text with Gotham Light.
Another option is to use an entirely different typeface for your headers than the body, captions, and sidebars. This is known as font pairing. Try contrasting a sans serif type of font with a serif one or using a commonality such as a shared historical context. Good combos include using Trade Gothic Bold for headers with Sabon for body copy. Pairing the sans serif fonts Raleway and Calibri can also be a great choice for print.
Feel free to add in script typefaces as well in situations where a touch of whimsy or class is needed, but restrict these fonts to tasteful headlines, infographics, logos, and smaller bits of text. A fun, modern combo of a script and sans serif font is SignPainter HouseScript Semibold and DIN Condensed. If you’re looking for font-pairing inspiration, check out typ.io or typeconnection.com.
When you’re ready to bring some new fonts on board, you’ll need to know where to look for them. If you have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, you have access to their online font repository, Typekit. Font Bros and Font Squirrel both offer many fonts free for commercial use as well.
Once you’ve made some type decisions, be sure to actually print out samples early on to see that the type looks good when printed vs. what it looks like on a computer screen. Print your sample text in 10–14pt for the body text and around 24pt for headers to ensure all type is legible at those sizes.
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