Message & Media: The Power of Typography
For example, if you're reading this column in the print version of Target Marketing, you're looking at Goudy, a tried-and-true serif typeface. Others include Times Roman, Palatino and Cheltenham. But Fultz says there are thousands more, and every type family has its own story. A designer who understands the power of typography can give you the details. And, as with all things related to direct response creative, details matter.
If you're reading this column online, you're probably looking at Arial, a classic sans serif typeface. I don't have space here to explain why it's common to see more sans serif than serif type online, even for dense copy. As you might guess, it has to do with technology and pixels. But as with everything digital, the typefaces being used online are changing. Other popular sans serif typefaces for print include Franklin Gothic, Futura, Frutiger and Avant Garde. Online you'll see Arial, Verdana and Calibri, to name a few.
• Just because there are thousands of typefaces, don't use them all in the same brochure. Niemuth says not to mix it up too much—two typefaces are usually enough. Fultz agrees: "Use as many as you need and as few as possible."
When you look at typefaces (a.k.a., font families), you quickly see there are "relatives" within the same family—italics, differing weights, condensed, etc. These are good for differentiating copy elements, such as callouts, captions, body copy and sidebars. Your job as a nondesigner is to help your designer understand what needs to be emphasized so he can choose the most effective type treatment.
• Use reversed-out type with caution. Be selective about using white type on black or a colored background, because it can be difficult to read. According to Niemuth, this is especially true in point sizes smaller than 10 point, serif typefaces with thick and thin lines, and in large quantities. Medina also cautions that, while senior eyes are OK with reversed-out headlines, it's a no-no for body copy.