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Picking the Right Font Face for your Document

By: Rafael Van Dyke

Picking good fonts are not usually a high priority when it comes to preparing a document; and most of the time, it probably shouldn’t. It’s easy just to stick with the reliable default fonts, like Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, CG Times, or Universal. And why not? They’re great fonts that are readable, simple, and extremely versitile (which is why they’ve been chosen as default fonts for many software programs).

But remember, the goal of creating a better document is make it stand out amongst other files; therefore, it only makes sense to steer away from the default fonts as a general rule. That’s easy enough, right? Well, most people fall under one of two categories: either you don’t have enough fonts to choose from or you have too many fonts to choose from.

If your font selection is limited, then your problem is easy to resolve - you just simple buy or download more fonts. The other problem of having too many fonts to choose from takes a little more knowhow. How do you know which font to use with a particular document? At this time, I would like to offer to you my guidelines for choosing fonts, broken down by document type.

Legal Documents
When it comes to legalise, it’s good to be safe side. That why default fonts are actually the perfect solution for legal documents, especially Times New Roman. But if you need a change of pace try these: Perpetua is slightly smaller than Times New Roman and gives a softer feel; Book Antiqua is slightly bigger, and has a strong presence.

Letters & Memos
In business, letters & memos should still make an impression that’s professional. The default fonts are fine (particularly Arial & Helvetica), but we can definitely afford to spice up these documents for extra appeal. Consider the following fonts for business letter & memos: Bell MT, Calisto MT, Franklin Gothic Book, or Garamond. When it comes to personal letters, you should pick your favorite font, whichever one that might be. If you don’t have, feel free to use my personal favorites ... Tahoma & Footlight MT Light.

Presenting to Clients and Potential Prospects
Documents to placed in front of a client, it is an absolute must that they look their best and stand out. Therefore, you are forbidden from using a default font in this situation! Also, you’ll want to select two fonts; one for all of your headings (preferably one that is thicker and looks good when the font size is 14 and above), and the other for your regular paragraph text (something that’s as readable as default font, but better looking. Be consistent - make sure all of your subheadings are the same font size.

Newsletters and Other Publications
This is where you can really get creative with your font use, but don’t overdo it. For the article text, keep it all the same and readable like a default font. For everything else, you may use up to 10 fonts & sizes; it all depends on the mode you need for your your publication. A corporate look will use fewer fonts and a fun look. The question becomes whether or not each heading and each section will have a different font.

Fonts For Your Website
Web documents have to be treated differently since the object is to make your text look good on the screen. Arial & Helvetica have always proven reliable, but Verdana & Tahoma have become very popular in the past few years. Times New Roman is a thing of past, and there aren’t many other fonts that are good for web development unless they’re made into graphic files (which slows down your website). But for a little more flexibility, be sure to use a pixel size (px) instead of a pont size (pt).

We could go on and on about how to treat other types of documents when it comes to fonts (and perhaps maybe we will in future articles); but whether you’re working on a research paper, a flyer, business cards, or even a church service program, they all have a basic feeling to be conveyed - and picking appropriate fonts will make sure that you convey the right message. So unless you want your next newsletter to look like a property deedArticle Search, go get some more fonts and pick the right fonts for your document.

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About The Author, Rafael Van Dyke

Rafael Van Dyke is the site owner of BETTERDOCUMENTS.COM and the editor of
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