20 fonts every graphic designer should own

Renowned Italian designer Massimo Vignelli, creator of the classic American Airlines logo, once said that designers use far too many typefaces. But with so many great free fonts around, it’s no surprise that creatives’ collections are ever-growing.

Vignelli’s all-purpose toolkit features household names like Garamond, Bodoni, Helvetica, Univers, Futura, Caslon and Baskerville – between them spanning three centuries of type design history. And few designers would disagree that all of the above are timeless, albeit well-worn classics.

But sometimes something a little different is required of a display face, to give it that extra punch. Sometimes the ubiquitous serifs of Times New Roman just don’t quite cut it. Whatever your needs, the following list of top fonts that often get overlooked should really come in handy.

We’ve split our list into display fonts, serif fonts, sans serif fonts and slab serif fonts to help you find the font you need. We’ll start with display fonts…

Display fonts

01. F37 Bella

Bella is a classical Didot-inspired beauty

Based on letterforms of American typographers John Pistilli and Herb Lubalin, and Swiss typographer Jan Tschichold, F37 Bella is an award-winning display font by Rick Banks. Designed in the classical French Didot style but with a contemporary geometrical twist, Bella contains alternatives and covers an extensive range of Latin-based languages, including Western and Eastern European.

02. Eames Stencil

If you’re looking for a great stencil font, look no further than Eames Stencil

When you’re looking for a great stencil font that’s beautifully designed and not in the least bit cheap-looking or gimmicky, this House Industries favourite should be your first port of call. This top font is part of the broader Eames family, developed in homage to the late great Charles and Ray Eames. The curves in the stencil font were inspired by the curvature of bent plywood.

03. Otto

Otto is Non-Format’s first commercially available font

Otto is a stunning font from talented design duo Non-Format. Featuring a combination of delicate lines with flashes of block colour, it’s a unique display font with two personalities that works well in large formats.

04. Poster Bodoni

This Bodoni display version from the 1920s is something extra special

Okay, so Vignelli already ticked Bodoni off the list – and a beautifully classy Didone-style serif it is too, thanks to the craft skills of Giambattista Bodoni in the late 18th century. But this display version from the 1920s is something extra special for setting large, high-impact type where the extreme contrast between the stem thickness really comes into its own. A top font that’s perfect for setting large, high-impact type where the extreme contrast between the stem thickness really comes into its own.

05. Cumulus & Foam

This surreal display font combines simple, ultra-thin lines with bulbous, cloud-like forms

Designed by Stefan Kjartansson for YouWorkForThem, this utterly unique, quite surreal display font combines simple, ultra-thin lines with bulbous, cloud-like forms to give Cumulus & Foam its tagline, “the most beautifully grotesque font of our time.” Although Kjartansson proudly asserts that it doesn’t work as a typeface, this top font’s “ugly beauty” and “disciplined chaos” can certainly add character to a project.

Graphic design

4 Infographics about Graphic Design Trends

Graphic design has long been one of the most important elements of a business’ marketing and branding scheme… long before the computer was even invented. What started out with artists using paintbrushes and markers on paper to design a logo has now turned into a huge, complex digital process that incorporates countless programs, skills and people. If you want to know more about graphic design, its history, and where it is today — check out the infographics below. They contain some useful information about the psychology behind graphic design, its processes, and also what is popular today.

1.The State of Graphic Design

Like with any business – areas of graphic design wax and wane as time passes. This infographic about the state of graphic design in packed full of information about the current state of the graphic design field, and it contains lots of useful information like what parts of graphic design are most important to be skilled in today and what computer programs are using to do their work.

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2.How Corporate Logos Evolve

We often don’t think about it – but the famous logos of big companies that we’ve come to know and love (or hate) are graphic designs that the company hired someone to do at some point in its evolution. This infographic examines how some famous logos have changed over the years – and in turn gives us a glimpse into changing trends of graphic design.

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3. How Would You Like Your Graphic Design?

There are lots of things people keep in mind when choosing a graphic designer – and they often have to do with cost, quality, and turnaround time. This interesting infographic shows you what goes into graphic design – and what the results of your design will be depending on what route you take to get it.

4.     Fonts & Colors

Ever wonder why your favorite brand chose a red logo and script font? There’s psychology behind every typeface and color choice, and companies (usually) have a purpose behind how they choose to brand their business. This infographic shows what typefaces and colors the world’s most successful businesses have used, as well as choices of text placement.

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Web Design


Like the phrase ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, effective web design is judged by the users of the website and not the website owners. There are many factors that affect the usability of a website, and it is not just about form (how good it looks), but also function (how easy is it to use).

Principles of effective web design_Steve Jobs

Websites that are not well designed tend to perform poorly and have sub-optimal Google Analytics metrics (e.g. high bounce rates, low time on site, low pages per visit and low conversions). So what makes good web design? Below we explore the top 10 web design principles that will make your website aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, engaging, and effective.


Good web design always caters to the needs of the user. Are your web visitors looking for information, entertainment, some type of interaction, or to transact with your business? Each page of your website needs to have a clear purpose, and to fulfill a specific need for your website users in the most effective way possible.


People on the web tend to want information quickly, so it is important to communicate clearly, and make your information easy to read and digest. Some effective tactics to include in your web design include: organizing information using headlines and sub headlines, using bullet points instead of long windy sentences, and cutting the waffle.


In general, Sans Serif fonts such as Arial and Verdana are easier to read online (Sans Serif fonts are contemporary looking fonts without decorative finishes). The ideal font size for reading easily online is 16px and stick to a maximum of 3 typefaces in a maximum of 3 point sizes to keep your design streamlined.

Principles of effective web design_Serif vs Sans Serif Typography


A well thought out colour palette can go a long way to enhance the user experience. Complementary colours create balance and harmony. Using contrasting colours for the text and background will make reading easier on the eye. Vibrant colours create emotion and should be used sparingly (e.g. for buttons and call to actions). Last but not least, white space/ negative space is very effective at giving your website a modern and uncluttered look.


A picture can speak a thousand words, and choosing the right images for your website can help with brand positioning and connecting with your target audience. If you don’t have high quality professional photos on hand, consider purchasing stock photos to lift the look of your website. Also consider using infographics, videos and graphics as these can be much more effective at communicating than even the most well written piece of text.


Navigation is about how easy it is for people to take action and move around your website. Some tactics for effective navigation include a logical page hierarchy, using bread crumbs, designing clickable buttons, and following the ‘three click rule’ which means users will be able to find the information they are looking for within three clicks.


Placing content randomly on your web page can end up with a haphazard appearance that is messy. Grid based layouts arrange content into sections, columns and boxes that line up and feel balanced, which leads to a better looking website design.


Eye tracking studies have identified that people scan computer screens in an “F” pattern. Most of what people see is in the top and left of the screen and the right side of the screen is rarely seen. Rather than trying to force the viewer’s visual flow, effectively designed websites will work with a reader’s natural behaviour and display information in order of importance (left to right, and top to bottom).

Principles of effective web design_F Layout


Everybody hates a website that takes ages to load.  Tips to make page load times more effective include optimising image sizes (size and scale), combining code into a central CSS or JavaScript file (this reduces HTTP requests) and minify HTML, CSS, JavaScript (compressed to speed up their load time).


It is now commonplace to access websites from multiple devices with multiple screen sizes, so it is important to consider if your website is mobile friendly. If your website is not mobile friendly, you can either rebuild it in a responsive layout (this means your website will adjust to different screen widths) or you can build a dedicated mobile site (a separate website optimised specifically for mobile users).

Mobile Friendly Web Design

It is easy to create a beautiful and functional website, simply by keeping these design elements in mind. Have you got a website design that needs reviewing or optimising? Or perhaps, you are planning a website and you are looking to get the design right from the ground up. Either way, these principles of effective web design can help your website be more engaging, useful, and memorable for visitors.


Design Theory: 5 Basic Principles of Typography

1. Don’t use too many typefaces

Do you know the difference between typeface and font? According to Adobe InDesign’s glossary, ‘A font is a complete set of characters that share a common weight, width, and style’. A typeface is collection of fonts sharing an overall appearance that are designed to be used together. For example, Verdana is a typeface and Verdana  12-pt italic is a font.

Typefaces usually are broken down into the following categories:

  • Serif
  • Sans-Serif

A serif is a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or a symbol. If the letters and symbols of a typeface have serifs, then we call it a serif typeface. The word “sans” is French for “without” and a Sans-Serif typeface is, as you might have guessed already, a typeface without serifs.

The thought is that the strokes of the serif typeface help guide the eye across a line of text. Serifs are almost a standard when it comes to most newspapers. Sans-Serif is said to be easier on the eye when reading online.

Serrif vs Sans Serif
  • Display

Display is usually a typeface used with large sizes, usually 20 or above.  They are generally not used for body, but they are perfect for demonstrating a visual theme when used for titles and headings.

  • Script

Script is a typeface based on the appearance of handwritten letters and symbols.


  • Dingbat

Dingbat is a special typeface used for scientific/mathematical formulas or graphic icons. Don’t use a typeface just because you like it, think of the impact it will have and make sure that it carries the references and associations your design needs.

2. Contrast is good, but the wrong colors can be painful

The most common form we encounter text in is black over white background. Despite the fact that people love colors, sometimes color makes text harder to read, less enjoyable and can ever cause pain when looked at for a longer time. It is almost always a bad idea to choose a text color and a background color which contrast with one another in a discordant manner.


You need to have enough contrast between the background and the text in order for the text to be legible, but you also need to make sure the colors don’t clash. Keeping the background of the text simple (fewer colors) is often the best choice as it allows you to use a small set of colors and get optimal results.

3. Limited use of display faces

Display typefaces are fun and they look very interesting. No matter how much you like them, don’t use them excessively. Keep in mind that ornamental and display typefaces were not designed to be used for bodies of text as they generally require a larger font to be readable. A good thing to remember is that these faces tend to be more complex, thus tiring the viewer’s eyes easily.

4. Scannable text is a must

When writing for the web, readability is not the only thing you have to worry about. The user is free to surf away at any moment and with just one click. Your purpose is to make sure that the text is in such good shape that the reader will keep his interest long enough to read through the whole thing. That won’t happen unless he can easily scan it for focus points that peak his interest.

Focus points are elements that will draw the user’s attention, such as a header, a button, a graphical element, emphasized text.

The main things that impact how scannable your text is are focus points, header size and position, text size, line height, alignment and contrast. Good use of these elements will make sure your reader will be made aware of the content of your copy before choosing to read it wholly or abandon it.

5. Don’t distort typefaces

Sometimes you feel the need to stretch of pull text to make it fit in a certain space or make it look different. Don’t do it!

Their creators have put a lot of work into making them, they are very carefully designed. By squishing or pulling a typeface not only do you take away from legibility, but you also eliminate the reasoning behind that typeface being crafted the way it was.

Each typeface contains styles and weights that are already properly expanded and condensed. Type designers know that people want “thinner” or “thicker” fonts, so sometimes these styles are included in typeface families.


If the font you are using doesn’t have the variant you are looking for, try pairing it with another font that fits your needs.

Do not use the bold and italic buttons in character palettes of the software as they are called “false bold/italic”. Instead, use the menu to find the real bold and italic, originally created by the type designer.

I’m hoping you have enjoyed our short journey through the world of typography and have found it at least entertaining if nothing else. Now let’s take a moment to see how many of these rules I have broken while writing this article, shall we? Feel free to comment and let me know below.

Web Design

9 Essential Principles for Good Web Design

Web design can be deceptively difficult, as it involves achieving a design that is both usable and pleasing, delivers information and builds brand, is technically sound and visually coherent.

Add to this the fact that many Web designers (myself included) are self-taught, that Web design is still novel enough to be only a side subject in many design institutions, and that the medium changes as frequently as the underlying technology does.

So today I’ve put together my 9 principles for good Web design. These are only my opinions and I’ve tried to link off to more reading on subjects so you don’t only hear my voice. Obviously, I have lots of disclaimers: rules are made to be broken, different types of design work differently, and I don’t always live up to my own advice. So please read these as they are intended–just some observations I am sharing…

Capture the Valley uses bars of color to guide your eye through sections from top to bottom…

Good Web design, perhaps even more than other type of design, is about information. One of the biggest tools in your arsenal to do this is precedence. When navigating a good design, the user should be led around the screen by the designer. I call this precedence, and it’s about how much visual weight different parts of your design have.

A simple example of precedence is that in most sites, the first thing you see is the logo. This is often because it’s large and set at what has been shown in studies to be the first place people look (the top left). his is a good thing since you probably want a user to immediately know what site they are viewing.

But precedence should go much further. You should direct the user’s eyes through a sequence of steps. For example, you might want your user to go from logo/brand to a primary positioning statement, next to a punchy image (to give the site personality), then to the main body text, with navigation and a sidebar taking a secondary position in the sequence.

What your user should be looking at is up to you, the Web designer, to figure out.

To achieve precedence you have many tools at your disposal:

  • Position — Where something is on a page clearly influences in what order the user sees it.
  • Color — Using bold and subtle colors is a simple way to tell your user where to look.
  • Contrast — Being different makes things stand out, while being the same makes them secondary.
  • Size — Big takes precedence over little (unless everything is big, in which case little might stand out thanks to Contrast)
  • Design Elements — if there is a gigantic arrow pointing at something, guess where the user will look?

You can read more of my thoughts on Precedence in an old Psdtuts+ post called Elements of Great Web Design – the polish. Joshua David McClurg-Genevese discusses principles of good web design and designat Digital-Web. Joshua also has the longest name ever 🙂

Marius has a very clean, very simple site with plenty of space

When I first started designing I wanted to fill every available space up with stuff. Empty space seemed wasteful. In fact the opposite is true.

Spacing makes things clearer. In Web design there are three aspects of space that you should be considering:

  • Line Spacing
    When you lay text out, the space between the lines directly affects how readable it appears. Too little space makes it easy for your eye to spill over from one line to the next, too much space means that when you finish one line of text and go to the next your eye can get lost. So you need to find a happy medium. You can control line spacing in CSS with the ‘line-height’ selector. Generally I find the default value is usually too little spacing. Line Spacing is technically called leading (pronounced ledding), which derives from the process that printers used to use to separate lines of text in ye olde days — by placing bars of lead between the lines.
  • Padding
    Generally speaking text should never touch other elements. Images, for example, should not be touching text, neither should borders or tables.
    Padding is the space between elements and text. The simple rule here is that you should always have space there. There are exceptions of course, in particular if the text is some sort of heading/graphic or your name is David Carson 🙂 But as a general rule, putting space between text and the rest of the world makes it infinitely more readable and pleasant.
  • White Space
    First of all, white space doesn’t need to be white. The term simply refers to empty space on a page (or negative space as it’s sometimes called). White space is used to give balance, proportion and contrast to a page. A lot of white space tends to make things seem more elegant and upmarket, so for example if you go to an expensive architect site, you’ll almost always see a lot of space. If you want to learn to use whitespace effectively, go through a magazine and look at how adverts are laid out. Ads for big brands of watches and cars and the like tend to have a lot of empty space used as an element of design.

Continue reading “9 Essential Principles for Good Web Design”


Typography rules and terms every designer must know

Typography is, quite simply, the art and technique of arranging type. It’s central to the skills of a designer and is about much more than making the words legible. Your choice of typeface and how you make it work with your layout, grid, colour scheme, design theme and so on will make the difference between a good, bad and great design.

There are lots of typography tutorials around to help you master the discipline. But good typography is often down to creative intuition. Once you’re comfortable with the basics, visit some typography resources to investigate font families and discover some font pairings that are made for each other.

Choosing a font

There’s an astonishing array of paid-for and free fonts to choose from online. But with great power comes great responsibility. Just because you can choose from a vast library doesn’t mean you have to; there’s something to be said for painting with a limited palette, and tried and tested fonts like Helvetica continue to serve us well.

There is a vast selection of typefaces for you to choose from

A typeface, like any form of design, is created by craftsmen over a substantial period of time, using the talent they’ve been honing for many years. And the benefits of a professionally designed font – various weights and styles to form a complete family, carefully considered kerning pairs, multi-language support with international characters, expressive alternate glyphs to add character and variety to type-setting – are not always found in a font available for free.

Here are some of the most important typographic considerations the professional designers needs to take into account.

01. Size

All typefaces are not created equally. Some are fat and wide; some are thin and narrow. So words set in different typefaces can take up a very different amount of space on the page.

The height of each character is known as its ‘x-height’ (quite simply because it’s based on the letter ‘x’). When pairing typefaces – such as when using a different face to denote an area of attention – it’s generally wise to use those that share a similar x-height. The width of each character is known as the ‘set width’, which spans the body of the letter plus a space that acts as a buffer with other letter.

The most common method used to measure type is the point system, which dates back to the 18th century. One point is 1/72 inch. 12 points make one pica, a unit used to measure column widths. Type sizes can also be measured in inches, millimetres, or pixels.

02. Leading

Leading describes the vertical space between each line of type. It’s called this because strips of lead were originally used to separate lines of type in the days of metal typesetting.

For legible body text that’s comfortable to read, a general rule is that your leading value should be greater than the font size; anywhere from 1.25 to 1.5 times.

03. Tracking and kerning

Kerning describes the act of adjusting the space between characters to create a harmonious pairing. For example, where an uppercase ‘A’ meets an uppercase ‘V’, their diagonal strokes are usually kerned so that the top left of the ‘V’ sits above the bottom right of the ‘A’.

Kerning similar to, but not the same as, ‘tracking’; this relates to the spacing of all characters and is applied evenly.

04. Measure

The term ‘measure’ describes the width of a text block. If you’re seeking to achieve the optimum reading experience, it’s clearly an important consideration.

05. Hierarchy and scale

If all type was the same size, it would be difficult to know which was the most important information on the page. In order to guide the reader, then, headings are usually large, sub-headings are smaller, and body type is smaller still.

Size is not the only way to define hierarchy – it can also be achieved with colour, spacing and weight.

Graphic design

How to Write a Video Script [Template + Video]

Happy month of June, everyone, and welcome to the latest edition of the Top 10 Websites for Designers. If you’re new to this series—every month, the HOW editorial staff curates a list of inspiring websites (and the occasional app) of particular interest to designers and creatives. This month’s list includes the site for a new type foundry, an interactive music video and more. Enjoy!

Top 10 Websites for Designers: June 2017

top 10 sites for designers

1. We the Fans


Through an interactive documentary series, you can follow the stories of the NFL’s Chicago Bears faithful fans.

2. XYZ Type


A new type foundry whose site invites you to play a little with their responsive shapes.

3. Nick Jones


Scroll down to watch this experimental interface in action (or choose a more conventional layout if desired).

4. Women Who Design


A Twitter profile directory of inspiring women in the design industry.

5. Color Theory


This highly visual, animated site presents the basics of color theory.

color theory, one of June's top 10 sites for designers

6. Real Estate – Stained Glass


Click and drag to colorize the video as it plays.

7. Mixfont


Start the generator to discover new fonts that (claim to) work well together.

8. Find Great Google Fonts Tool


Filter a curated and visually categorized list of fonts that are freely available from Google.

9. Graphic Design Archives West Michigan


This site makes both physical artifacts and digital representations available to anyone interested in the rich legacy of graphic design, paper manufacturing and printing in West Michigan.

Continue reading “How to Write a Video Script [Template + Video]”