Behind the Font-Face Part 1: The Psychology of Font

There is a relatively new maxim that suggests how important your choice of font is. Now, not a lot of people take the time to personalize their choice of font-face. However, when it comes to print and Web material where the choice of font type is almost as essential as what the text says, understanding what psychological impacts (subliminal or otherwise) the choice of font would render is important. So much so that a lot of research into this issue has already been conducted.

Graphology: From Handwriting to Font-Face

Graphology, the study of handwriting and how it reveals a writer’s psychological inklings, has found a new point of interest in the many different font-faces available today. Apparently, some font types have a different persona than others.

The curves or loops of script font for instance, are may appeal more to the feminine psyche than the male while the straight and strong lines of font like Verdana could quite easily appeal to the masculine psyche. But aside from the age-old male-female delineation of how things are perceived, there are a number of other perspectives in the psychology behind fonts.

Making an Impact Through Form, Not Just Content

It’s becoming increasingly apparent in research how the form of the font used in print relays messages of its own aside from what the content of the text explicitly conveys. As such, some research into the possible inherent uses of font in rhetoric is underway. The greater number of already published studies though, focuses on the legibility, suitability, and persona of fonts.

Legibility

Obviously, the way a font is designed would influence its legibility. The impressions of stability and conformity in some font types have the edge over more radical font-faces when it comes to professional and academic materials and the like. This legibility factor is becoming increasingly important in today’s modern world where readers and audiences would prefer text that is easily read and scanned for specific important info.

Suitability

Some fonts are more legible, some aren’t. But beyond their legibility, their suitability where they will be used is another big factor. For instance, the respected and trustworthy Times New Roman is better suited to professional correspondence and corporate brochures, while the curves of Georgia is better suited for girls’ nights out invitations.

Personality

But perhaps more interesting is how particular fonts have corresponding personality traits which can be associated with them. Therefore, a letter sent to your boss will need to use font that is respectable and appealing, otherwise it won’t obtain your desired effect.

When you think about it, the font-faces we choose become our modern handwriting. When it comes to designing print material or even Web media, fonts have subtle and overt influences on our audiences, so we can’t simply pick one out offhandedly. In the second part of this blog post we’ll delve deeper into choosing fonts for specific print media.

6 Responses to “Behind the Font-Face Part 1: The Psychology of Font”

  1. J. Hendrix says:

    Cool article, thanks!

  2. Think this is a great line and very true… “When you think about it, the font-faces we choose become our modern handwriting.” While the art of really good handwriting is being lost, it is interesting how fonts have come to reflect personality of individuals rather than their hand writing. Very insightful post.

  3. Dave says:

    Jake Van Ness and yourself are spot on. For a long time I use to use Palatino. But my favorite is Optima by a mile. I’ve no idea what that say’s about me. But who cares…

  4. Deranged Artist says:

    How cool – Form vs. Function with fonts!!! We all know that makes sense though, don’t we – font choice is always important. For a girls’ night out invitation, I believe I would choose a font that is a little more fun and zippy than Georgia, though….how about something like Curlz or Bradley Hand?

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