Friday, January 14, 2011


Believe it or not fonts are a hotly debated topic in our household. Living with two designers who always have an opinion on what font to use I asked them both which is their favourite which turned out to be a difficult question for them to answer. It became clear that unlike me who tends to use the same font for everything, they had many favourite fonts for different purposes. 
Look at any list online of the worst fonts and top of the list is Comic Sans.             
In Early Childhood teachers often choose Comic Sans because of its closeness       to the written letter, its formation of the letter ‘a’ is shaped in the same way
it is written. Critics of Comic Sans say it is an uneven font, the spacing is not
the same for every letter, it is a casual font often used with the wrong
purpose in mind - it was designed to mimic comic strip script and was
released by Microsoft in 1995.
Gill Sans and Helvetica on the other hand are two of the most popular fonts.     Gil Sans was designed by Eric Gill in the 1920’s, it has been used widely in
the London Underground. Helvetica was created in 1957 and
when you look around at packaging it is every where. Energizer, Post-it, evian,
Microsoft. I like it because it is clean and crisp without any fussy-ness.

So, there are a few golden rules when it comes to choosing a font, the first of which is to think about the purpose of the font. Is it for a learning story or other documentation that you want children to revisit? If it is then it needs to be easily ‘read’ by children, some fonts like brushed script 
are really difficult for children to identify individual letters. This is a common mistake
I see when I read through children’s learning story, the font used is distracting from the
content, and is often hard to read for me as an adult. What must this be like for children
when they are revisiting documentation? Comic Life’s default font is capitals and I often
see this in learning stories (see my Comic Life sheet on our website on tips to avoid this).
Is your piece of work going to be enlarged? Some fonts work better than others at larger sizes, and if your document is going to be printed some smaller fonts do not print well.
Different fonts take up different amounts of space, even at the same point size, Papyrus for example takes up more space than Arial.
Think about the impact you want to make, don’t be afraid to mix fonts if you are making a poster, the impact of these can be very eye catching.
Check out the font family, Helvetica has the following options in it’s family.
Helvetica font family

This is great when you are making a document with a variety of font sizes and you want to stick with the same font.
Check that the font you are using ‘set’ is complete. Particularly if you are typing Maori words, you want the macron to be straight over the vowel.
For more information about fonts and selecting best fonts and avoiding the worst check out the following link:

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