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6 Tips for Choosing the Right Typography for your Poster

6 Tips for Choosing the Right Typography for your Poster
The average person thinks about design and doesn’t recognise the amount of work that goes into creating a unique and engaging piece. After all, how hard is it to choose a few interesting images or to pick a suitable font for a poster or flyer, right? Most of the work is done using templates anyway, right? Wrong. As any designer or creative team leader knows, the design process is actually more complicated than you’d think.In this blog we’ll be exploring some of the tips you need to be aware of when picking typography for a poster.

Stop Art-Thieves by Freestylee - Artist Without Borders

Stop Art-Thieves by Freestylee – Artist Without Borders

Align your choice of typography with the content of your posterMany designers often want to avoid common fonts such as Times New Roman or Helvetica since they’re used so often and may come across as boring. However, it’s important to remember that the style of font needs to align with your content and in certain cases it’s better to use a more common font than a font that doesn’t get the right tone across.Accept Autism - by Maria Papaefstathiou aka It's Just Me

Accept Autism – by Maria Papaefstathiou aka It’s Just Me


Never use more than three different kinds of type

A good designer is always aware of the visual hierarchy (the order in which you prioritise your content) and how to use it to avoid confusing the person engaging with your content. One of the key ways to avoid this problem when designing a poster is by never using more than three different typefaces. The wider the variety of type, the harder it gets for your reader to focus on the content, so be sure to keep this tip in mind to prevent this problem from arising.

Respect - by Maria Papaefstathiou aka It's Just Me

Respect - by Maria Papaefstathiou aka It's Just Me


Don’t forget about the typeface weight

The weight of a typeface – the width of the stokes that make up each letter – is an important factor that many designers are aware of, even if it’s only on a subconscious level. However, it’s a vital factor in the visual hierarchy. Choosing the right weight of font can draw the viewer’s eye, focusing their attention on a specific word or phrase that you want them to prioritise. You can clearly see this demonstrated when you choose a different style of font, such as light, normal or bold, or when applying a different font setting, such as italics.

While you may be tempted to use the same font to communicate the importance of all of your written content, don’t forget that this can make your piece monotonous and have the opposite effect that you intended. Prioritisation of the different key points of your poster can be introduced by using variety.

Nelson Mandela by Maria Papaefstathiou

Nelson Mandela by Maria Papaefstathiou aka It’s Just Me


Key information should be eye-catching and easily visible from a distance

Another factor you need to be aware of is the clarity of your type at a distance. Most people are going to be walking (or driving) along, going about their own business. The first thing is to choose typography that grabs their attention away from whatever they are doing – not an easy task since they may be focused on their plans for the day or their mobile phones.

Once you have successfully grabbed their attention, the poster font needs to be large enough that the key information can be taken in without the reader having to get close to the poster. It’s recommended that vital text on your poster be legible from about five feet away.

AFRICAN-MIGRANTS by Freestylee - Artist Without Borders

AFRICAN-MIGRANTS by Michael Thompson aka Freestylee – Artist Without Borders


Kerning is key

When selecting a typeface, there are different elements you should be aware of to ensure it’s clearly legible including:

  • the shape of each letter, number and symbol
  • the kerning, or letter spacing

By paying attention to these factors, you can avoid many fonts that may appear perfect at first glance, only for you to discover later that specific characters (often lowercase letters like g, j, p or y) simply do not read clearly.

Face Africa by Freestylee - Artist Without Borders

Face Africa by Michael Thompson aka Freestylee – Artist Without Borders


Picking the perfect partner

When working with different kinds of type on a poster, you’re going to need to introduce some variety by making use of more than one font (up to a maximum of three). However, not all fonts work well together and some might even clash and disrupt the reading experience. Keep in mind the following when attempting to pair two fonts that contrast and create visual interest:

  • Sans serif usually work well with certain serif fonts (feel free to experiment)
  • Classic and contemporary fonts usually complement each other
  • Regular fonts should be paired with bold fonts
  • Short fonts work well with tall fonts
  • Heavy fonts and lighter fonts create a good visual balance
  • Regular style fonts gel well with italics style fonts

Choosing the right typography for your poster can be difficult, but hopefully, these few tips will help you create more visually interesting messages that clearly get the point across.

This post originally appeared in Graphic Arts News.

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