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National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Fonts and Typefaces

A font, or typeface, is the style or look of type treatment. For example, when you change Times New Roman to Arial in a document, you are switching fonts.

Serif and Sans Serif

Fonts are largely divided into two categories: serif and sans serif. Serif fonts have little flourishes on them and san serif are plain, cleaned-edged--think more straight lines. Serif fonts are usually the best choice for the body of an article or newsletter, while sans serif fonts are often used for headlines. This is not a hard-and-fast, rule, however. At the national office, NAMI often uses the fonts Berkeley (serif) and Franklin Gothic (sans serif) in publications and other design products.

Some good rules of thumb to follow for font use are:

  1. never run yellow type on white (it's too hard to read)
  2. never use more than three fonts in one document
  3. use universal fonts when designing for the web (see below)
  4. use serif for body text and save sans serif for headline text or signage.

Fonts on the Web

When you design web products (sites, emails, digital newsletters), stick to universal fonts that are recognized by almost all computers. In general, these fonts include Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana and others. For a complete list of universally accepted web fonts, visit this overview. These fonts usually come standard on all computers, whether Mac or PC platform.

The primary difference between the fonts you use in print and the fonts you use on the web is that not everyone has the same fonts on their computers, so what you design for the web or an html newsletter won't always look the same to the person receiving it. For this reason, it's smart to use fonts that the most people have (such as Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman) so that your digital communications will look the same no matter who's viewing them.

You can read more about fonts here.

You can purchase professional fonts from Adobe.

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