Display fonts…The “Pretty” models of the typesetting world

Everyone enjoys a fancy car, be it a Trans-Am, a Corvette or a Porsche but, you can’t go off-roading in a Cadilac.

Just like  some display fonts… They add extra panache and ompf to ad and editorial layouts but, to read an entire paragraph set in Brush Script, for example,  could send your audience running to the local eye doctor. Because display fonts are plentiful and there are so many available, free or inexpensively packaged in publishing software, that typesetters are in a veritable candy shop when it comes to taking them for a test drive. It’s tempting to try them all but such ideas should be saved for personal or nonsensical print art media found in modern art museums not for print ads and editorial spreads where the content is an important element for both advertiser and consumer.

San-serif type is very versatile and compatible with certain display typefaces, Serif type is a little more difficult to “match” and especially when using the italicized versions of Times and Garamond.

Using bold/block typefaces should be used sparingly in body copy to help emphasize elements of the paragraph. Using a semi-bold font can be used if the paragraph is a reverse style element (white type on black or dark background) but not for an entire editorial piece.
Display fonts are often difficult to manipulate horizontally and vertically and often the display typeface looks too distorted or incorrect and unprofessional when outputted. To truncate or change the look of a display font, your best bet is to typeset your headline, or line of type, in Adobe Illustrator and convert the text to outline. Then you can manipulate spacing, line height and letter width of each letter. Unfortunately, when you do this type of editing, there is little you can do to correct spelling unless you want to go through the entire editing process again so make sure you check your spelling before you convert your text to outlines.

I guess the best word of advice I can give when it comes to display fonts is to use them sparingly. Just like putting on too much lipstick and mascara looks silly, your layouts could suffer the “Tammy Fae” fate…too much of anything is never good.

Need help typesetting, feel free to contact me here on my ad-vice blog or e-mail me at nicholenappi@hotmail.com.

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