If you’re bored with Arial, Times Roman and Comic Sans Serif, try some new fonts. Fun fonts can give your text documents a distinctive look. The internet abounds with sites that offer free font downloads that you can use for printed documents. Typically, the fonts are available as zipped files that need to be unzipped and installed in your fonts folder. Most sites have easy to follow instructions on how to proceed. Once installed the font’s name should appear in your word processing program along with all the usual font options.
Most of us think of fonts as little more than functional features in our word processors. A browse through some of the fonts available for downloading shows how wrong that assumption is. Font designers are true artists, and their artworks show just what imaginative graphic design can do to spice up a dull document. It might not be appropriate to use a fancy font for some kinds of printed text, but the applications for special fonts are wide-ranging.
Fonts are available for matching to a wide variety of themes and contents, to allow you to express your personal style or to appeal to the tastes of a specific recipient. You could download fonts for special occasions (Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day, amongst others.) There are fonts that children will enjoy, elegant fonts, modern fonts, calligraphy fonts and fonts with the flavour of foreign lands. You can choose from funky, crazy fonts, humorous styles and fonts used for brands and in movie titles. For the creative, fonts are a source of endless pleasure.
There are however some pros and cons. For example, if your document is designed for display on a computer screen, remember that other computers won’t be able to display it unless the font is installed on that computer or network. Unless incorporated into graphics, they are therefore usually not suitable for use on webpages. (Also search engines spiders and bots are unlikely to be able to read them). Beware when using fonts that you match the style you’re going for.
Many fancy fonts are suitable for headings or restricted use in a document but not for whole documents. If you need a different font for a whole document, try printing a test page to see whether it’s easily readable. If you’re using it as a heading, it’s worth taking a good look at how the heading font looks with the body text font. For example, if you have a sans serif font for the body text, it may be best to use a sans serif for the headings as well.
If you see a font that you fancy downloading, have a look at what it consists of before you leap. Some are only available in capitals or lower case. You may like the alphabet characters but dislike the way the numbers look.
Fontmakers design their fonts to a particular scale. Character size can usually be varied infinitely within your word processing program, but some fonts do not necessarily work as well visually when enlarged or made smaller. Again, a test page will help you make the best choice.
There are websites that explain some of the principles of font design – for example, why Verdana is popular for webpages; or why sans serif fonts (like Arial) are said to be more harder on the eye than fonts with serif (like Times New Roman). The way to go is to play around and see what effects you can achieve.