Art and Design Society

Read Why Fonts Matter

Read Why Fonts Matter by Sarah Hyndman

We all constantly interact with type in almost every aspect of our lives. But how do fonts affect what we read and influence the choices we make?

This book opens up the science and the art behind how fonts influence you. It explains why certain fonts or styles evoke particular experiences and associations. Fonts have different personalities that can create trust, mistrust, give you confidence, make things seem easier to do or make a product taste better. They’re hidden in plain sight, they trigger memories, associations and multisensory experiences in your imagination.

* Fonts can alter the meanings of words right before your very eyes.
* See what personalities fonts have, and what they reveal about YOUR personality.
* Explore how you respond to fonts emotionally and can make fonts work for your message.
* Be amazed that a font has the power to alter the taste of your food.

I heard about this during an Adobe Max presentation from the author that I enjoyed. I liked her conceit that typography and design subconsciously influence emotional reactions and experiences, and are a big part of storytelling. I also like her point that typography is a shared cultural construct, that we have created meaning for many styles of type that all of us learn. I appreciate that she advocates for everyone to express design opinions, not just designers with an extensive background.

The approach to this book was a bit jumbled, a combination of scientific research quoted, her arguments, activities, and anecdotal data presented as scientific data (which bugged me). It couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to be, and feels like it may have started as a more technical work and been expanded and adapted to a more general / less designer audience?

Timeline of typeface styles with exemplar fonts

My biggest takeaway is how little typefaces have changed, and what a frankly conservative design field it is – we are still using typefaces based on the first printed books, five hundred years ago. Caslon is from the 1500s!

Apparently type shapes (round, jagged) influence what we taste – ‘sensation transference’.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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