Back in the 15th century, type foundries didn't offer much in the way of font choices. But we've come a long way since then. With so many available fonts to choose from nowadays, how do you know which is right for you?
The first part of your decision will be determined by the two main classifications: Serif and Sans Serif. Serifs are small strokes on the edges of letters. Sans serif fonts (sans
meaning without) do not have these decorative features.
Common wisdom holds that long paragraphs are easier to read with serifs, as they make it easier for eyes to scan letters, words, and sentences. Generally, books and newspapers use serif typefaces. In contrast, many believe that sans serif fonts are preferable on digital displays like computer or cell-phone screens.
Once you've chosen whether to go with serif or sans serif, the next step is choosing a style.
Serif typefaces have three main styles: Modern, Old Style and Transitional. Modern fonts tend to have the biggest difference between the thickness of the strokes.
So the left leg of the letter M might be really thin, while the right leg is thick.
Old style typefaces are more balanced and modeled after early lettering design.
Transitional serif typefaces fall between these previous two. Examples would be Garamond or Didot.