To the uninitiated, delving into the world of fonts is confusing at best and overwhelming at the worst. In this article, we’re going to prime your mind with the info you need to font with the best of them. First off, why use different fonts? Wouldn’t just one universal font work just fine? Different fonts are used to convey a sense of emotion, time period, a particular feeling (i.e. light, airy), or a personality trait (strong, tough). These differences along with size, color, and a few other options we will look at in a second combine to create the feel of the document you are creating. This may seem to be giving font selection a lot of credit, but when fonts are used correctly the difference is clear.
Unfortunately, when a font is truly well chosen the reader may not even consciously realize its effect. Due to this, we believe the best way for someone new to fonts to gain an understanding of why font choices are important are examples of poorly used fonts. Douglas Bonneville has put together an excellent list of egregious font violations for your viewing displeasure http://bonfx.com/23-really-bad-font-choices/.
Now that you’ve hopefully been impressed with the importance of font choice, how does one make a font choice decision? Figure out your audience and what you want them to get out of your font. Do you want to convey a no-nonsense business feel or perhaps a more of a playfulness? Having an idea of the feelings you want to evoke with the font you use will make it much easier to choose one then just sitting down at your computer and staring at different fonts waiting for divine inspiration. A great place to get an idea of what fonts generally should be used in different instances is a study by the University of Wichita. http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/81/PersonalityofFonts.asp.
Its a little bit wordy as its an academic publication but full of great information on what average users think of different fonts. For further reading on the categorization of fonts and their usage we would highly recommend Dan Mayer’s article on the subject found at: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/12/14/what-font-should-i-use-five-principles-for-choosing-and-using-typefaces/