The Font of Youth

How to Select a Language for Your Language

We all know that when we use all caps, OUR WORDS SHRIEK. And when we use a script-style font, or even just italics, there is a sense of intimacy, personality and even romance. Serif fonts say art and culture, while sans-serif fonts say business and technology. What fonts do you really like? Hate? Whole websites have been devoted to the hatred of Comic Sans, and a feature-length movie has been made about Helvetica

Content is never neutral as it is always being shaped by design, presentation, context, delivery and other factors. And from the early days of monks who drew lavishly illuminated text to bloggers who write their rants in lean Verdana, the art of typography has literally given us a wealth of languages for our language. 

No doubt fonts are a kind of meta-language. Our choice of fonts for personal correspondence, business writing or website copy tells people something about us. It influences how our content communicates, and it even makes a statement about time and place, the same way wearing skinny ties and stovepipe pants conjures up images of the 1980s.   

Some promising new fonts in the last few years include ITC American Typewriter Pro, ITC Franklin, Carter Sans and Bradley Type, and there’s a list of the top 100 best-selling fonts of all time, updated daily. Vintage fonts are a lot of fun for creating a kind of textual mise-en-scène as it tells a story the instant you see it. Have a look at these free vintage fonts ― Carnivalee Freakshow, Circus Ornate, Showboat and Parisian, to name a few.

The following table lists 12 notable fonts, along with the year they were introduced. Some originated as fonts for print and conventional advertising channels, while others in the ‘90s and later were intended for screen use on computers. BTW, Facebook uses a modified version of the Klavika font.

Think about how your choice of font style for your website or other digital media project may date you and your project. When these fonts were introduced they became popular, and even though most remain in the canon of default fonts found on most machines, they still hearken back to their original era.

chart of historical fonts and their design origins

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