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Most Readable Font Typefaces for Print

Who needs advice on the most readable font typefaces for print text? Choosing a typeface for text seems like a no-brainer. Design is often focused on the eye-catching label, the attention-grabbing cover. But in reality, choosing a readable font typeface is one of the most challenging decisions of graphic design.

Print text refers to the columns of words and sentences in printed materials like brochures, books, newsletters, magazines, etc. What is readable on a computer differs from printed output. A readable font typeface for printed text can mean the difference between a short-term grab and long-term memory. Readability and legibility are top criteria for a designer of print layouts. The effectiveness of any printed text rests on how easy it is for the eyes to scan and comprehend content. Readable font typefaces makes this possible.

A readable typeface for print is built on solid principles of design. Updated cuts are then worked by master typographers and font designers. The following are considered the most readable font typefaces for printed text, with several further than this list. Most are serif typefaces, with a few sans serif font families. New designers may dismiss them as too familiar at first, but return to them eventually:

Baskerville, designed by John Baskerville

Typography poster by Andrew Henderson

Baskerville Type Poster by Andrew Henderson

ITC New Baskerville, designed by John Quaranda

Typography Poster by Strange

New Baskerville Type Poster by Strange

Caslon, designed by William Caslon

Typography poster by Eunice Chan

Caslon Type Poster by Eunice Chan

Typography poster by Shawnacy Ruffin

Caslon Type Poster by Shawnacy Ruffin

Typography specimen from Whittington Press – photograph by Tony Geer

Whittington Press ephemera - photo by Tony Geer

Century Schoolbook, designed by Morris Fuller Benton

Typography poster by Adrienne Saldivar

Century Schoolbook Type Poster by Adrienne Saldivar

Garamond, designed by Claude Garamond

Typography poster by oBrokenoRoboto

Garamond Type Poster by oBrokenoRobot

Typography poster by Hope Tweed

Garamond Type Poster by Hope Tweed

Adobe Garamond, designed by Robert Slimbach

Typography poster by Melaine Top

Adobe Garamond Type Poster by Melaine Top

Perpetua, designed by Eric Gill

Typography poster by karikun

Perpetua Typography Poster by karikun

Bembo, redesigned under the direction of Stanley Morison, from the typeface by Francesco Griffo

Typography poster by BigJaz32

Bembo Typography Poster by BigJaz32

Typography poster by Shauna Goldman

Bembo Typography Poster by Shauna Goldman

Palatino, designed by Hermann Zapf

Typography poster by theStrange6

Palatino Typography Poster by theStrange6

Typography poster by Timothy Mara

Palatino Typography Poster by Timothy Mara

Poynter Old Style Text, designed by Tobias Frere-Jones

Typography poster by Daniel Marques

Poynter Old Style Text Typography Poster by Daniel Marques

Poynter Old Style Text specimen by Font Bureau

Sabon, designed by Jan Tschichold

Typography poster by Chica Yoshida

Sabon Typography Poster by Chica Yoshida

Sabon type specimen by Helzdesign

Sabon Typography Specimen by Helz Design

Frutiger, designed by Adrian Frutiger

Typography poster by Cale LeRoy

Frutiger Typography Poster by Cale LeRoy

Typography poster by lludu

Frutiger Typography Poster by lludu

Futura, designed by Paul Renner

Typography specimen posted by maijaahonen

Futura Typography Poster -posted by maijaahonen

When we use a readable font typeface for print, we have access to all its fonts. Not just one. A typeface is a whole family of fonts. A readable typeface includes real italics, various weights like light, medium, bold, heavy, condensed, etc. And with OpenType features, you will also have access to unique styles called glyphs.

Some of these typefaces may sometimes not look as crisp on screen as you would wish. But in print text these readable font typefaces appear in all their glory. There’s a reason why they are called classics. They translate well to deliver modern messages without looking like they belong to a retro era.

Are there free font typefaces that are as readable for print text? Surely with all the beautiful free specimens available? Most of us collect free Web-friendly fonts by the hundreds. Then scale down to less than 50 for the really good ones. But studies, experience, and printing presses have shown that for print materials, the most readable font typefaces are still the classics, or some of their updated versions. Perhaps you already have some of these typefaces. If you don’t, they are worth purchasing if you intend to produce design layouts for print.

Written by Henry Has


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