Top Ten Fonts for 2020 and When to Use Them

Knowing the top fonts in use today and when and where to use them can give your printing company a competitive edge.  More and more brands are becoming font conscious when designing their campaigns. Being able to provide your input on typeface selection early in the sales cycle can land you quality customers for the long run.

There are quite a few different lists of the top fonts for 2020.  We’ve chosen to use Google’s because the fonts on it are readily available to everyone and because they are the most applicable to general printing applications.

Other lists may tell you about fonts that are useful for designing wordmarks, logos or infographics, but Google’s list includes the fonts that publishers and marketers depend on every day. They appear in order of popularity.

1. Helvetica

Helvetica remains the world's most popular font. It's best known for signage and when designing business forms, like invoices or receipts. It's effortless to read because its large x-height makes it look larger than it is. That makes it a great choice when customers need to use very fine print.  The most common criticism of Helvetica is that it lacks character. That’s great if you want to leave a very neutral impression, but using a more distinctive font can help you get a reaction from your readers.

2. Calibri

The runner up on our list is also a sans serif font.  However, it has more character than Helvetica. The set-width is tighter, and the letter shapes are rounder and more creative. Microsoft designed Calibri, and it's now the default font in Microsoft Office. Its modern and “business casual” look makes it a perfect choice for most business documents.

3. Futura

Our next example is another classic sans serif font. If you’re noticing a trend, you’re not mistaken. Sans serif fonts are in fashion today because they reflect the mood of our post-modern era.  Futura is the best-known geometric font in use today.  Its characters are all drawn from the circle, the square or the triangle. If your customer wants readers to see it as ultramodern or futuristic, this is the accepted choice to make.

4. Garamond

Garamond is the first serif font on our list. Garamond is a classic font style that goes back to 17th century France, and it’s one of the most elegant fonts you can choose. Garamond is best known as a typeface for book publishing. You can use it whenever you want to convey a sense of classical taste and refinement.

5. Times New Roman

The best-known serif font in the world has dipped just below Garamond in popularity recently. The Times of London commissioned the font in 1931. It used the typeface for forty years. Readers will always associate it with journalism and publishers use it for books and general printing every day. Its reputation makes it the perfect font for brands who want to convey a solid, reliable image.

Trade Secrets

We're often impressed by the skill with which wine stewards in fine restaurants match the perfect wines to our meal choices. There's a trade secret behind that skill. Wine stewards have a limited menu to support and a limited inventory in their cellar. They stock their cellars based on the menu, and they have memorized their pairings long before the host ever shows you to your table. 

 

Memorizing these ten in-style fonts can be a vital trade secret in the printing industry. Being able to pair them effortlessly like a wine steward will differentiate your business and give you credibility with knowledgeable typographers and graphic designers. You can learn more about how designers use all of these fonts at the website fontsinuse.com

6. Arial

Our sixth font on the list brings us back to the sans serif fonts. IBM commissioned Arial. It's so similar to Helvetica that rumors circulated that IBM only designed it to avoid paying royalties for our number one typeface. Those of us of a certain age will remember it from the landmark Windows 3.1 operating system. Like Helvetica, it's a general-purpose font your customers can use for signage, business forms or fine print. Never mind the rumors, it’s lighter and a bit less formal than Helvetica, which gives it more character and originality.

7. Cambria

Microsoft commissioned Cambria in 2004 as of one of the ClearType fonts included in Windows Vista. Although designed relatively recently, it resembles serif fonts from the late 19th century. This transitional serif font is more condensed than Times New Roman and, like Helvetica, it's sturdy looking and easy to read in small type. Microsoft intended Cambria for body text, and typographers use it widely in general business printing.

8. Verdana

Verdana is another Microsoft font, this time in the sans serif family. In 1996, Microsoft wanted an alternative to Helvetica that was more legible on computer screens. It’s become a solid choice for printing on paper as well. It has a larger set-width and character spacing than Helvetica. These qualities make it even more legible than Helvetica for fine print.

9. Rockwell

Rockwell is a classic slab serif, or Egyptian-style, font that goes back to 1910. Its designer meant it for use with displays, so it's an excellent choice for banners or posters where your customer wants to convey a time-honored image. It's big and bold, which makes it in-demand for signage. It's also versatile enough to use in standard text applications for established brands.

10. Franklin Gothic

We round out our list with a very heavy “grotesque” (there’s nothing ugly about it) sans serif font that first came out in 1904. Gothic is an old-fashioned word for sans serif. Franklin Gothic is very popular for billboards, banners and headlines, but most readers find it too weighty for extended text. If your customer needs to make a big, bold, brief statement, this is the font for them.

These ten “go-to” fonts should be part of every printer's vocabulary. Knowing what they look like and when to use them is an excellent way for your printing company to display its expertise to clients.

 

We should remind readers that this list is by no means exhaustive. A great book that is practically exhaustive is The Essential Type Directory by Peter Dawson. No matter what reference you use, today’s printing industry faces innumerable fonts from which to choose.

That's where Dr. FontZ and his team at COPI come in. They assist printers and mailers in providing the best in font technology for high-volume production environments.

You can learn more at their website.


We hope we've helped you with your future font choices, and we wish you every success in applying them to your customer's needs.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our Anatomy of a Font article.

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