font recommendations

Fonts are only one ingre­di­ent of typog­ra­phy. And mess­ing around with the font menu on your com­puter isn’t a sub­sti­tute for know­ing the fun­da­men­tals of type com­po­si­tion and text for­mat­ting. That’s why this chap­ter appears in the mid­dle of the book, not the begin­ning.

But we’ve cov­ered that, right? So here’s the secret sauce: if you want the fastest, eas­i­est, and most obvi­ous upgrade to your typog­ra­phy, noth­ing beats a pro­fes­sional font.

As a designer of pro­fes­sional fonts—includ­ing the ones used in this book—am I biased? Of course. But no one has seri­ously dis­puted that it’s true.

If you con­sider the alter­na­tives in this chap­ter and still pre­fer Times New Roman or other system fonts, I won’t think less of you. I’ll even con­cede that there are sit­u­a­tions, like emails and draft doc­u­ments, where sys­tem fonts are your best option.

But in gen­eral, for writ­ers who care about typog­ra­phy, pro­fes­sional fonts are essen­tial tools.

Why use professional fonts?

The best pro­fes­sional fonts are bet­ter than any sys­tem font—and in ways that every­one, even peo­ple who think they don’t have an eye for typog­ra­phy, can appre­ci­ate. Though you can’t have the world’s best typog­ra­phers lay out your doc­u­ments, you can incor­po­rate their work into your doc­u­ments with a font.

Pro­fes­sional fonts are also a great value. Yes, they cost money. But you can get a top-qual­ity font fam­ily for under $200. (Though I’ve also included two that are free—Cooper Hewitt and Charter.) These fonts will improve the appear­ance of every doc­u­ment you cre­ate, they’re dis­tinc­tive, they’ll never break, they won’t be obso­lete in three years, and they won’t need to be upgraded. Best of all, you can put them to work with­out learn­ing any­thing new.