How to Choose the Right Fonts

Choosing fonts is part of building your brand. Ask yourself basic questions about your business that can help you shape which fonts you should use.

Day 29: De-mystifying Typography

Typography isn’t all that scary. It’s just different styles of lettering, after all. Yet typography is still considered a space reserved for  brave nerds or professional designers. Which it totally shouldn’t be, by the way — especially if it can make you money.

Yep — if you think a website packed with Comic Sans converts better than one with Helvetica, put your money where your mouth is and update your website accordingly!

But if you’re sane, you’ll know exactly what we mean. Typography is an extension of your personality as a business. Are you playful? Artistic? Serious? Chances are, you can use it to you advantage.

Notice the use of the word typography, and not simply typeface or font. Typography is an umbrella term for fonts, spacing, anything to do with how your words appear on the page.


What should you look for in a typeface?

What’s the difference between fonts and typefaces? You’ll hear about them interchangeably, but basically a typeface is a font family (say Helvetica), while a font is the specific variation and style of the parent typeface (i.e. Helvetica Neue bold).

In any given typeface, the 5 most important elements to keep in mind are:

Serifs: the decorative strokes used to finish the ending of a letter. Any typeface without these strokes is called “Sans serif”

Baseline: the invisible line where letters sit

Cap height: the distance between baseline and the top of capital letters

X-height: the distance between baseline and the top of the lowercase letters

Counter: the empty space inside letters like A, O, B. The term for open letters (like C) is Aperture


Here’s a quick visual (with more terms):

Of course, a typeface must have easily-recognisable characters to succeed — but you knew that already.

Now that we speak the same language, let’s look at how you can find your fonts.

Finding fonts (the quick and dirty way)



The best starting place for fonts is with your brand’s personality. It’s an untouchable thing, but you should have an idea of how you want customers to perceive your brand.
Your typeface should reflect this as closely as it can (without trying too hard to be clever).

As a basic guideline, here’s how different fonts tend to be perceived:

Play around with these (free to download and use!) to get an idea of what your next typeface could look like.

Once you’ve found 3-5 fonts you would consider using on your site, you can move onto the next step.

Pairing fonts

Important: never use more than 2 fonts. Any more than two and your site gets messy. Save yourself the stress.

Now, narrow down your list of fonts to two keeping in mind that:

Here are some tools you can use to quickly find good combinations. These examples will also give you ideas for how to style (bold, italics, underline etc.) your fonts to make the text easier to skim:

Bonus: Ever looked at a font and wished you knew what it was called? Use this Google Chrome extension. It’s a life-saver.

Your homework

Ask yourself if your website’s typography is settled. If not, play around with some new combinations that will resonate with your customers.

Have fun with this one, it’s a creative exercise.