Which font does the Variety magazine use
The 5 fonts and how to use them
Typography is one of the basics of graphic design. When you dive into the wide world of typography, it probably seems overwhelming at first. Fonts, more than almost any other design element, instantly convey both a message and a feeling to your viewer, so choosing the right font is really important.
There are thousands upon thousands of fonts in a variety of styles that are easily accessible with the click of a button. But it's harder than ever to tell whether you've chosen the right font for your project or composition. Read on to learn how to make the right choices by understanding the different fonts and learning which projects they go best with.
The anatomy of fonts
Before we dive into the world of fonts and styles, it can be helpful to understand a few things about the anatomy of a font. All fonts lie on an invisible plane called the baseline - think of them as the blue lines on your loose piece of paper - and have an invisible axis called the center line.
The H-line is the top level of a capital letter, like the straight stroke on a capital T. The horizontal bar is the line in the middle that crosses a capital H or A. Some letters, like the lowercase h or b, have what is called the ascender, a line that runs above the center line. Others have a descender, which - you already guessed it! - runs below the baseline. Classic descenders are the small bow with a small g or the lower half of a y.
All letters have these basic parts, but their thickness (known as "strength"), shape, and height affect which family or type of font they belong to.
Get to know the gang: the 5 fonts
Serif fonts are the most classic, original fonts. They are named after the little feet at the top and bottom of the letter shapes. Serif fonts go back to the Romans, who broke up their brushstrokes at the top and bottom, creating the serifs as we know them today. Serif fonts became fashionable in the 15th century and held court for 300 years. Even within this one term there are thousands of smaller subdivisions (Old Style, Classical, Neo-Classical, Transitional, to name a few). While a normal viewer would throw them all together, a font nerd can explain that the subtle differences between thickness, ascender, and shape of the actual serif give away at what time they were created.
Those who aren't nerds need to know this: Serif fonts are omnipresent in our everyday lives, in almost every book we read or document we open (Hello, Times New Roman). They're the first choice for logos or printed text, and are generally considered to be the most reliable (or conservative) fonts on the planet. Our eyes love them, both for short titles and long passages of text.
Egyptienne fonts are fonts with impressive, large serifs. They are the loud cousins of the classic, quiet serif typeface that became famous on billboards, posters and leaflets of the 19th century, designed to shout their message out from a good distance. Later they evolved into more elegant forms, like the ever popular Clarendon, which also works for longer sections of text.
Egyptienne fonts almost always bring a vintage vibe to a design. They have a rough athleticism that cannot be denied. The classic shapes work incredibly well for any outdoor-related brand, and the refined, modern variants always feel a bit artistic - probably because almost every typewriter font is an Egyptienne.
Sans serif fonts
Sans serif fonts are fonts that don't have tiny feet. They came up in the middle of the 19th century, but only made their big appearance in the so-called modern era, in the 20s and 30s. They were considered new and flashy, like shorter skirts and the Charleston dance. (Fun fact: you can still find sans serif fonts with the word “grotesque” in their names, thanks to people who thought they were crass and just good for advertising.) In the middle of the century, German designers used these footless shapes to create fonts that are still popular and iconic today, such as Futura and Helvetica.
Sans serif fonts are still considered the most economical, efficient, clean, and modern choice. They can also be read in a wide variety of sizes and their less detailed shapes have adapted excellently to digital screens. Sans serif fonts are bold and a bit bossy - while they work well for long paragraphs of text, they have always shone with larger uses, such as headings and logos.
Script fonts are those that mimic italic handwriting. They are divided into two categories reminiscent of an invitation to a party: formal and casual. Formal cursive fonts, as the name implies, are the fanciest fonts. They are reminiscent of the incredible handwriting of masters of the 17th and 18th centuries. They are immediately recognizable by their upper circles and decorations that extend from the serifs. These are also called turns. They should be treated with caution. Using them for longer text can make your design resemble the United States' Declaration of Independence. For wedding invitations, book covers for romance novels and any design that wants to feel more historical, they will never go out of style.
Casual cursive scripts developed in the 20th century and are less like the work of calligraphers than that of sign painters. These fonts have far fewer swings and are more legible. They work well on anything with a casual, sleek feel, including logos, posters, and leaflets, and tend to feel timeless.
Unlike formal or casual handwriting, handwriting was difficult to find ten years ago. Manuscripts often lack the structure and definition of the letter shape of a traditional script. Instead, they mimic the loops and flow of natural handwriting. Technically, they could also be sans serif fonts, reminiscent of your dad's all-caps text on the birthday card. The sheer variety makes handwritten fonts difficult to describe, but the recent explosion of shapes available remains with excitement to watch.
They work really well for book covers and posters, and are inevitable in logo design as they bring a creative, unique touch that almost every small business wants to capture. (A quick note: look at handwritten fonts carefully before you buy them. Sometimes in the rush to find a truly custom font, you take abbreviations. A fun font is great for headings, but sometimes they lack the full range of letters and punctuation.)
Tips for combining different fonts
Peanut butter and jam. The internet and cats. Some things just belong together. Fonts are no different. A quick search reveals a myriad of specific suggestions on how to combine different fonts, using both easy-to-find fonts that are already on your computer and those that you have searched for yourself. Some basic guidelines: As with all aspects of design, contrast is important. Nothing beats a sans serif uppercase font and italic serif font. The lightness of italics balances the heavy, dark thickness of the sans serif font. Sometimes it's not even a matter of combining fonts from different families - most sans serif families have a wide range of weights and spacings, so a font can be used in different ways in the same design. Condensed and heavy for a headline, normal for a body of text. Never underestimate how versatile a single font can be.
The best fonts for web and paper
As noted above, sans serif fonts have grown in popularity due to the growing importance of digital design. But regardless of family, all fonts intended for digital use are optimized to improve readability and on-screen performance in a variety of formats. This means less eye strain and less fatigue for the person dealing with your design. If you are a web designer, this is incredibly important.
On the other hand, many fonts for the web are custom made for websites to get the full design potential and don't even include a suitable desktop font.
Think about the time
The most important piece of advice when it comes to choosing a font style is to always remember the time. As explained above, each font style has its own package that is tied to where it came from and when it became popular. Thinking about the period of time that the font is reminiscent of is a great way to choose the right font: Victorian-colored calligraphic cursive is simply a poor choice for a web design company. Whereas a geometric, sans serif typeface that exudes a science fiction feel might not work particularly well for a landscaping company.
Now that you know the different fonts you'll be able to take your design to the next level. And because the best advice is often the cheesiest: have fun and experiment! Sometimes a combination of two fonts creates a composition that is more than the sum of its parts, and other times just one font will be the answer to all of your design problems that you never thought could ever work. And remember, even the most seasoned designers will try several font styles and combinations before they find the right one. Familiarize yourself with the rules of fonts so you can take risks and really make your next typography project shine!
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