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Font Guidelines

In the world of digital typography, a “font” is the look of the typeface: this is different from this and different from this. Fonts are fun and important — they add a visual dimension to your message. And there are some guidelines for appropriate use.

Personal or commercial use?

Your computer and its software programs come with a variety of fonts; you can purchase (download) additional fonts from online font companies. Prices range from free to not-free to quite expensive. Some free fonts are designated for personal use only; you must pay for a license if you intend to use them commercially.

Modify conservatively

Most software programs allow you to vary the look of the font. Good design practice dictates that “less is more”: to emphasize text, choose to underline, italicize, CAPITALIZE, or use bold or color. But do not use all of them at the same time!

Choose the right font for the right feature

Fonts for paragraph text should be uncomplicated and easy to read, like the one you are reading right now. Fonts for headings, sub-headings, and logos can be more “adventurous.”

Sending documents with “fancy” fonts

Not every computer can (or will) read every font it receives. If you send an email or a Word or Excel document using an awesome new font, understand that it might not appear as you intended on your’s recipient’s computer. If his computer doesn’t have that particular font, it will substitute a close one, or if necessary, display a generic font. Some computers will display an incoming email in a particular font, regardless of the font in which it was sent.

Typography is both an art and a science, and I welcome its challenge. I hope you do too.