Great Resources for Great Type
According to Merriam-Webster, typography is the “style, arrangement, or appearance of printed letters on a page.”
That definition doesn’t sound all that exciting. Typography is so much more than arranging letters on a page, and these days that page can include the Internet, too. Whether for print or web, typography is an essential part of any design. It’s also one of the more difficult elements of design to master. If you’re in the habit of using 12pt Times New Roman because that’s the default in Word, I urge you to step into the big wide world of typography and have a look around.
Most peoples’ experience with typefaces (or fonts) starts and stops at choosing one from a drop-down box, but there’s a lot that goes into the typeface design process. It’s an exacting science which requires time, patience and a good eye. You have to consider the x-height in relation to the cap height. Where each letter sits on the baseline. The kerning in between each letter to make it look like they’re at an equal distance. The thickness of the strokes in relation to each other. The size of the bowls, and loops, and counters. You get it now. It’s difficult. And amazing when done right.
Fortunately, you don’t have to create typefaces from scratch, because there are already so many beautifully-designed ones out there. But finding great ones means digging through the poorly designed ones, too, and believe me, there are a ton of those. Have you seen the one with a heart as a tittle (the dot above the “i”), or the one that resembles a candy cane? Not the best choices if you want to be taken seriously.
That’s why when you’re looking for great type to use for your project, it’s best to stick to great resources. Here are a few of my favorites:
FontFabric has high quality fonts, of which many of them are free, which is great news for small budgets. One of my go-to typefaces can be found on this site, Aleo — a slab serif which works great for both headlines and body copy. It comes in three different weights + italics, which is a must when you’re looking for a body font. You can do so much more if the font comes in different weights to add visual interest and clarity to your design.
Another excellent font site is Lost Type. They have a small font library, but probably the best library for display fonts. There’s so many good fonts on this site that I use every day when I’m designing that it is hard to pick just one as a favorite. But definitely make sure that you try out Franchise, Mensch and Arvil Sans.
FontSquirrel has a big, well-organized library. I go here to find fonts for body copy, but they also have great script and display fonts. Some of my favorites are PT Sans, Museo, and Roboto. Some of these fonts can also be found on other sites like Google Fonts, but I like to use FontSquirrel during my search because it’s easy to find what exactly you’re looking for thanks to all the different tags you can apply.
With Google Fonts there’s truly no reason you need to use Verdana on your website anymore. Google Fonts has a vast library of web fonts you can link to directly for free, meaning that you don’t have to host the fonts on your own website. Open Sans and Cabin are nice sans-serif options and Arvo and Caudex are unique serifs.
What are your favorite typefaces?