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Dec 3, 2019

Creating a Logo: Fonts and Typefaces


Think about the popular book series, Harry Potter. Not only is J.K. Rowling’s content magical, but the fonts in the books are magical too [1]. Even the movies use the unique font, with the “P” in Potter including Harry’s iconic lightning bolt. Fonts have an important role to play in logos. Like we discussed in our last blog, creating a logo includes a few design considerations: color, font, and versioning. Last blog, we discussed colors and the meanings behind them. This blog covers fonts.

Fonts fall into a larger typeface category [1]. Some major type face categories include Serif, Sans Serif, Script, Modern, and Monospaced [1,2].

Serif – These easy-to-read traditional fonts popular for print include Times New Roman, Georgia, Baskerville, Rockwell, Cambria, and Book Antiqua. Serifs are the little feet on the ends of characters. For example, the platforms at the bottom of a capital “A.” Louis Vuitton’s logo is an example with the small lines at the top of the “V” and on the edges of the “L.” Serif fonts are known for being serious, stable, practical, and mature [1,2].

Sans Serif – Since sans means without, the definition of Sans Serif is in the name: traditional typeface without the small lines at the ends of the characters. Common fonts in this category include Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, Corbel, Montserrat, and Century Gothic. While Serif fonts appear often in print, Sans Serif fonts tend to be web-based. Sans Serif fonts are a neutral alternative, seen as modern and streamlined [1,2]. Spotify uses a Sans Serif font, called Proxima Nova [3].

Script – Fonts that give the appearance of being handwritten fall into the Script typeface category. For example, Comic Sans, Lucida, Kristen, Yellowtail, Lavanderia, Edwardian Script, and Learning Curve Pro. Some are fun and casual, while others look like the preamble to the U.S. Constitution (“We the People…”). Script fonts are seen as feminine, casual, and funny [1,2]. Though Script fonts can be difficult to read (making them less desirable from a logo perspective), some popular brands use them, such as Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Ford, Cadillac, Kleenex, Virgin America, and Instagram. Since Script fonts are seen as fun and feminine, it is the perfect font type for the Barbie logo.

Modern – The Modern typeface goes by many names: Display, Decorative, and Novelty to name a few. Whatever you call it, these fonts are meant to get your attention. They are bold, assertive, masculine, and coarse. Since they are unusual, you’ll see these fonts used sparingly. Examples of these fonts include Impact, Rockwell, Agency, Bebas Neue, and Curlz. Some standout fonts in this category are the outdoorsy wood-filled Pinewood and the 1920s-reminiscent Betty Noir [1,2]. The show The Sopranos used a Modern font, in which the “R” was replaced by a gun. In a show about mobsters, a masculine, bold, coarse font fits perfectly.

Monospaced – Even more old-fashioned than Serif, Monospaced takes us back to the typewriter days. These fonts have larger spaces between letters and can seem dull, unimaginative, and plain. Examples include Courier, Consolas, and Monaco [1]. You almost never see these types of fonts in logos, likely due to the blandness and excessive white space.

Under each typeface category, there are many fonts to choose from. However, you can consider the broader categories to determine the feelings you wish to convey with your logo. Many more serious professional services firms, that have serious customers, utilize Serif fonts that make them seem stable and mature. You will want to consider your business and your customers. Your logo’s font should align with the mood and style of both [2]. 

When choosing a font, make sure it is legible [2]. You can experiment with different backgrounds to see if your text stands out. Or print your logo in a small size on a page and see if you can read the text [1]. A few other great tests are the X-height and the I/l/1 test. X-height is how tall your font’s lowercase letters are. If your lowercase letters are as tall as the uppercase ones, the font may be hard to read. For the I/l/1 test, in your chosen font, type out the capital letter “I” (as in India) then the lowercase letter “l” (as in Lima) and finally the number one. Next to each other, you will see if the font makes the different characters indistinguishable [2].

In addition to your font choice, you will need to consider the spacing and capitalization of your logo’s font. Ebay’s Univers font uses no spacing between the letters as each letter touches the next, whereas Regal Cinemas ITC Berkeley Old Style font uses spaces between the letters. Target’s Neue Helvetica and Geico’s Microgramma use all capital letters. Conversely, Adidas’ Avant Garde is in all lower-case [3]. 

The font of your logo will say a lot about your business and knowledge of the typefaces can help you narrow down your font search. Make sure to consider legibility, spacing, and capitalization too. is a great resource for many free font downloads. 

Good luck font-hunting!