A Guide to Use of Fonts in Formal Writing
  • 4-minute read
  • 16th June 2022

A Guide to Use of Fonts in Formal Writing

When it comes to picking a font for a resume, report, or any other piece of professional writing, the choice can be overwhelming. It might be tempting to use a variety of quirky fonts to make the text more distinctive, but poor font choices can make your documents memorable for all the wrong reasons!

Our quick guide to fonts in formal writing will help you choose typefaces that enhance your writing and convey proficiency and professionalism.

What Are Serif and Sans Serif Fonts?

Serifs are the decorative details added to the main strokes of letters and symbols. In this blog, we use a serif font for the headings. Serifs give text a traditional appearance, and because serif fonts are the easiest to read in print, they are used in nearly all books and newspapers.

The most common serif fonts in use today are Times New Roman and Garamond. Other popular choices include Cambria, Century, and Georgia.

Sans-serif fonts, like the one we’re using here, have no embellishments and therefore have a more simple, modern look. Most people find sans-serif fonts easier to read on screen, so they are the most popular for blocks of text in emails and on websites.

Familiar sans-serif fonts include Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, and Open Sans. 

Choose Standard Fonts For Emails and Reports

For routine documents like letters and reports, you should stick to conventional fonts. This is because an unusual font style could distract the reader from the content of your writing. It can be helpful to think of the font as the outfit your writing wears. Like a classic tailored suit, a familiar font signifies authority and competence, without drawing attention to itself.

Use Brand-Aligned Fonts For Promotional Material

When it comes to presentations, website content, social media posts, and marketing material, you can be more adventurous. Here you should choose fonts that are consistent with your brand.

The style of font you use sends subtle messages to your readers. That’s why companies spend big bucks on research and design before deciding on a new logo. Your business might not be competing with the likes of Adidas or Apple, but brand consistency is still important.

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When picking a font, think about the image you want your brand to embody. Tall, thin letters suggest beauty and grace, while shorter, wider ones convey solidity and strength. Serif fonts are associated with dependability and elegance, whereas sans serif can denote clarity and simplicity. Think too about letter spacing. Fonts with compacted letters demonstrate precision, whereas more widely spaced lettering has a more relaxed feel.

How Many Fonts Should You Use?

Too many fonts can make the page look cluttered and unprofessional. To keep documents attractive and engaging, you should ideally use only two:

  • An easy-to-read default font for the main body of text. 
  • A more distinctive font for headings and titles.

For web pages you can add a third “feature font,” which should be reserved for those elements that you want to draw particular attention to (e.g., call-to-action buttons).

Summary: Fonts in Formal Writing

The right style of font will make your writing appear attractive, professional, and easy to read. We recommend serif fonts for documents that are going to be printed and sans serif for material that will primarily be read on a screen.

For the main body of text, your top priority should be clarity. Choose a simple font that doesn’t distract readers from the actual words on the page. More conspicuous fonts should be reserved for headings and other prominent elements.

Finally, once you’ve decided which fonts are right, be sure to use them consistently across all your company’s written material. This will help readers recognize your brand and build trust.

Whatever the font, our proofreaders love helping customers to polish their writing. Find out what we can do for you by sending us a free trial document today.

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