In today’s computerized world designers have sea of fonts to choose for their design. Although choices are huge you should stick only to few fonts when designing your publication. “Less is more” is especially true in font selection.
Less is more
It is far moss useful to concentrate on few font families. One of the rules is to use two families. One serif and one sans-serif. You should choose those font families that have a range of weights (normal, bold, black…) and widths (extended, condensed, compressed). A great example is the most traditional sans-serif Helvetica which has many styles, from condensed to normal to extended. I am not saying you should always choose Helvetica but I am mentioning it as an example of a font with good varieties.
For example, if your type of choice does not have condensed style, do not use your layout software to condense the font manually. Normal weight font will not look good when you condense it to some 75% of its original width. Also do not extend it either. It will look horrible and text set in such a way will be hard to read.
Try at least 3 combinations of serif and sans-serif fonts
Today lots of magazines use several font types but you will notice that some of them are used only for running heads or folios or quote text. Choices for body text and headlines is always limited to few fonts. Sometimes you will use slab serif font for running heads or for credits and bylines. The choice is yours but do not over do it.
Try it out
When trying out different type families always print them out, preferably lay them out in columns that will match your final grid and in a size that will be used for body copy. Compare few choices to see which choice suits you best.
Mario Garcia, one of the world’s leading newspaper designers, states that you should choose at least three font combinations of serif and sans-serif to choose the appropriate combination.
You should also take into account the stock of paper that will be used in your publication. Today’s magazines are mostly printed on thin paper and you should pay attention on possible show-through of type and illustrations. In this case you should not set your body type in a font that will look heavy on the page.
Also you should take good care that some serif fonts cannot be printed well in smaller sizes, like Bodoni or Didot (never use these fonts for body copy), because its really thin serifs tend to become faint on very glossy paper.
Whatever you do, go with the functionality and not the looks. If the font that you have chosen does not work well with your chosen column width or paper stock, choose another one. You should not sacrifice readability and usability for the sake of style, and in the end it won’t look good as you thought it would.