It can feel overwhelming to select a font, especially if you don’t have a graphic design background. Of course, we all use fonts every day so we usually know some of the expectations for different pieces of content. Fonts like Times New Roman and Arial can often be found in professional settings, while Baskerville or Bodoni are timeless choices for printed works. We also know fonts like Comic Sans and Papyrus are almost universally controversial at this point. But what else should you know about selecting your fonts? Specifically, how should we choose the best magazine fonts?
The selection of magazine cover fonts can feel especially intimidating. It’s the first thing your readers will see and often becomes your strongest brand identifier. Think about magazines like Vogue or Time and there’s a good chance you can immediately picture their cover and distinct font. As most magazines rely on a careful balance between text and design, one of the most important questions is “how to choose a font for your magazine?” It can take a lot of planning, but don’t worry––the process doesn’t have to be stressful! Here’s a guide to help take the guesswork out of bringing your magazine’s text to life.
When you picture popular brands, it’s easy to think of elements like color schemes or photography styles that regularly appear in their campaigns; however, the text style is just as important when creating a visual identity. Your font choices are a foundational element of your brand kit and should complement the overall message of your publication.
Font psychology is a relatively new term, but the field of study is as old as type itself. Font psychology simply refers to the influence a font or typeface has on its viewer. From decision-making to emotional cues within a text, decades of research have gone into how we engage with the written (or typed, in this case) word.
Even if you’re not so familiar with font psychology and how magazine cover fonts can influence your reader’s attention, making a choice about which fonts to use should be pretty straightforward. Your magazine fonts should always reflect your publication's design and content aesthetics. Here are three things to think about when selecting magazine fonts:
Brand identity: Whether or not you consider your publication a “brand,” your designs should consider your magazine’s identity and the audience you want to attract.
Typographic hierarchy: Typographic hierarchy explores which sections of text are attracting attention, what kind of attention it’s attracting, and where. Things like size, color, contrast, and the weight of the text make a big difference in where a reader’s eye goes on a page. The font’s capitalization (or case) is also something to consider here. Determining how you’d like to capitalize your title can help balance out your theme and set the tone.
Select a versatile font: You want something that feels appropriate for each issue of your magazine. Magazine cover fonts need to be able to withstand changing cover images, color variations, and any need to scale up or down for use in various brand materials.
Not all magazine fonts and typefaces are created equally. Each font has its own “family” of styles, and each one has something unique to say. Typography has five primary font families: cursive, fantasy, monospace, sans serif, and serif. You can explore which font would make the most sense for your publication within these. Here are some of the most commonly used fonts within each font family:
Fantasy: Cottonwood, Critter, Wonder Night, Ghostoons
Monospace: Fira Code, Courier, Space Mono, Maison Mono
Cursive: Mission Script, Thirsty Rough, Carolyna Pro Black, Jacques & Gilles
Sans Serif: Futura, Proxima Nova, Superia Sans, Maven Pro
Serif: Times New Roman, Georgia, Bodoni, Didot
Due to terminology changes over the years, the terms ‘font’ and ‘typeface’ are often mixed up. A typeface is a specific collection of related fonts. A font is a particular style, weight, and width within a chosen typeface. This means each different version of a typeface is a font. Colloquially, many people use the term ‘font’ to speak about both.
The most important thing about your magazine font is its legibility. Your readers should be able to understand the text without struggling to read easily. While cursive or script fonts might be fun stylistically, they could be harder to read, and that might discourage your audience from spending time with your content or coming back. Magazine fonts go far beyond the front cover, so even if you’re using a more abstract font for the title of your publication, make sure the fonts used inside the magazine provide an excellent experience.
Your font size is also important to standardize in your magazine’s brand kit or style guide. According to Health Literacy Online, readable font is at least 16 pixels/12 points. To make your content more accessible for readers (for example, if your audience is a senior community) font sizes of 19 pixels/14 points or larger are preferred.
As it is with deciding your magazine’s topics, when you start to think about design choices you should consider your audience and their reader experience. What do you want your reader to think and feel when they see your first issue? Magazine cover fonts are just as much part of your brand’s story as the theme of the month and your photo selection, and they all speak to a chosen audience.
For many designers, typography is one of the foundational pieces in the design process. If you already have design elements in mind, your next step is to select a font that goes well with your overall vision. After considering your audience, understanding the different font families, and exploring the psychology around the options, you now know how to choose a font that will complement your work.
With Issuu, it’s never been easier to create and upload documents that look exactly like you envisioned. Our web-ready fonts feature renders your files, so they always stay on-brand and uncompromised by the upload. No font flattening required.
Apply these tips to your magazine and watch your branding come together, creating a beautiful magazine with a complete and well-considered design. With your color scheme, design, and font family decided, selecting the best magazine cover fonts for your publication should now be easy.