1. Choose a Style
Most of the fonts in the world can be broken into five main categories, each with their own feel, character and look. You can narrow down your options by first choosing a style.
- Serif: These fonts can be identified by the “feet” or small brushstrokes at the top and bottom of the letters. They have a classic feel and have been around since the 15th century and are the default for many publications. These fonts are considered to be conservative and generally pleasing to eyes. Examples: Georgia, Palatino, Times New Roman, Cambria.
- Slab Serif: These fonts also have feet at the top and bottom of the letters, but they tend to have solid rectangular “shoes” at the end of the “feet”. They are bold and contradictory. Depending on the context, they can evoke vintage or modern, urban or rural, bully or nerd feelings. Examples: Clarendon, Rockwell, Courier, Lubalin Graph, Archer.
- Sans Serif: If you’re catching on to how font categories are named, then you’ve probably guessed that Sans Serif means the letters don’t have feet or shoes. They appeared in the mid-19th century but still convey a modern feel. They are efficient and clean and are increasingly used in websites and other publications. Examples: Arial, Impact, Lucinda Grande, Tahoma, Verdana, Helvetica, Franklin Gothic, Montserrat, Corbel.
- Script/Handwriting: As the name suggests, these fonts look similar to handwriting or cursive script. These fancy scripts should be used minimally unless you’re going for a homespun, historical feel. Examples: Yellowtail, Edwardian Script, Lavanderia, Learning Curve Pro.
- Decorative/Display: These fonts are designed to stand out and grab your attention. They work best for posters, homepages, logos – anything that needs to be bold. At times they can be difficult to read, especially the wilder they get and should be used sparingly. Examples: New Rocker, Pinewood, Bebas Neue, Curlz, Betty Noir.
2. Stay on Brand
Of course, once you choose a style there are still more decisions to make. The font you choose should closely resemble your logo. This makes it easier for customers to associate the photos with your business. If your logo does not include text, then select a font that is similar to your website brand or other branded content.
If you haven’t given much thought to branding, then consider the type of image you want to project. For example, if you take kids photos, you should go with a more casual font type. Or, if you take professional photos, then you should go with a more formal font.
3. Ensure it’s Visible
Once you have a handful of fonts that are appealing to you, test each one on a photo to see how well it appears. Visibility will depend on many factors such as the thickness of the letters, opacity, size and location.
While you can adjust some of these features – for example, with many watermarking tools it’s easy to increase the opacity – some fonts may be too intricate or delicate for watermarks.
Whatever selection you make, you want to make sure it’s visible enough, so you get the credit you deserve, and others know that the photo is yours.