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Sunday, January 7, 2018


When I was in art school, I took typography courses. Merriam-Webster defines typography as “the style, arrangement, or appearance of typeset matter.” Typography is an art form that uses letters rather than images to convey a message. In class we learned how to choose the perfect font to best partner with our designs to enhance them. Marie Miguel, our guest today, talks about the psychology behind font choices in today’s digital world.

What Your Choice of Font Says About Your Personality (and How This Influences How Others Perceive You)

Aside from a few people with fairly specialized interests, the art of calligraphy is more often admired than practiced these days. Graphology – the study of handwriting – is still used forensically to determine things like whether or not a particular person wrote something or other by hand and what their state of mind might have been, but the idea that a person's psyche can be analyzed through how they shape their P's and Q's has pretty much been debunked with anyone who knows anything about psychology.

In modern times, though, what used to be called penmanship has been replaced by the ability to write in paragraphs, ‘nt abrvt wrds’ unnecessarily, and generally FORMAT AN EMAIL as if your age is in the double-figure range. Part of this means the font you choose, which may seem trivial while you're actually composing a message but can indeed influence the amount of interest and credence you can expect from editors, customer service reps, potential employers and even your mom.

Times New Roman
If you would like nothing less than to stand out from the crowd, use TNR. It's traditional, but also not the easiest to read nor the most stylish – regardless of whether “style” means either something more minimalistic or ornate to you. Using this font basically says to the world that you either don't know how to change the word processor's default, or you just don't care enough to do so, or you're over sixty.

Comic Sans
Used exclusively for children's birthday party invitations. Ignored in all other contexts. Can you imagine an unsolicited manuscript in this font ever being read? There's a first time for everything, but we're not holding our breath.

Reading a message written in this font gives the idea that the writer probably loves Notepad++, writes in block letters rather than cursive and compiles lists alphabetically. With Arial, the message is the meaning, with no added flair or color.

Not as bare-bones simple as Arial yet not as pointlessly ornate as some serif fonts, Cambria has character while still remaining readable and classy. It may be nothing special, but it's rarely the wrong choice, which is probably why it's the default font in Microsoft Word.

In many ways, this font is a suitable go-to option unless you want to express some special kind of emotion. It's clean, cool and easy to read without looking quite as sparse as something like Courier or Arial. While the “best” font will always be a matter of opinion, using Helvetica suggests that you are serious without being stodgy.

Occasionally, a writer really wants to make a point. One of the ways of doing so is to use a lesser known font, forcing the reader to slow down a little and reset their mental preconceptions. While Rockwell isn't all that suited for everyday use, a message in this font takes a little longer to read and will stand out from those written in more easily recognized styles.


Angela Adams said...

Your photo has me missing my electric typewriter!


LOL, Angela! I certainly don't miss all that correction fluid!

Anne Louise Bannon said...

Okay. My favorite font is Diploma. What does that say about me? And I do still like TNR and I'm not over 60. Yet.
Actually, I'm a pretty hardcore font geek, although Rockwell is new to me. Looking for it now.