How To Choose Body Text Fonts

Different sizes of typographical pieces assembled in mosaic of letters
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The bulk of what we read is body copy. It's the novels, magazine articles, newspaper stories, contracts, and Web pages we read day after day. Text fonts are the typefaces used for body copy. Body copy requires legible, easy to read text fonts.

How to Choose Your Fonts

  1. Check the font at 14 points or less.
    Choose a typeface that is readable at body text font sizes of 14 points or less. In some cases, text fonts may be larger, such as for beginning readers or an audience with vision impairments. When browsing a font book or specimen pages, be sure to look at how the font looks at smaller sizes, not just at the larger samples.
  1. Consider serif fonts for text fonts.
    In the US at least, serif faces are the norm for most books and newspapers making them familiar and comfortable for body text.
  2. Avoid extremes for body text fonts.
    Choose a font that blends in and doesn't distract the reader with oddly shaped letters, or extremes in x-height, descenders, or ascenders.
  3. Consider serifs for serious text.
    In general (with many exceptions) consider serif faces for a subdued, formal, or serious look.
  4. Consider sans serif for informal text.
    In general (with exceptions) consider a sans serif fonts for a crisper, bolder, or more informal tone.
  5. Use proportionally-spaced fonts.
    Avoid monospaced typefaces for body copy. They draw too much attention to the individual letters distracting the reader from the message.
  6. Stick with basic serif or sans serif faces.
    Avoid script or handwriting typefaces as body text fonts. Some exceptions: cards and invitations where the text is set in short lines with extra line spacing.
  1. Use plain, basic fonts for body text.
    Save your fancy or unusual typefaces for use in headlines, logos, and graphics. For body text, they are almost impossible to read comfortably, if at all.
  2. Consider how other text will look with your body text fonts.
    The perfect body text fonts lose their effectiveness if paired with headline fonts and fonts used for captions, subheads, pull-quotes and other elements that are too similar or incompatible. Mix and match your body fonts and headline fonts carefully.​

    Tips

    • View font selections in print. Don't rely solely on an on-screen display or a small sample. Print out the fonts you're considering at body copy size in paragraphs of varying size.
    • Use Web friendly-fonts. Fonts suitable for print do not always translate well to the screen for Web use. When repurposing print documents to the Web, consider whether or not the same font is still appropriate.