An Abundance of Typefaces

One of the hallmarks of amateurism in publication design is an overabundance of typefaces. As if thinking that just placing a nifty typeface on the page will somehow improve the overall design, would-be designers splatter the page with typeface after typeface expecting somehow their unique combination of Helvetica, Times New Roman, Impact, Bickham Script Pro, Arial, Calibri, Arno Pro, and Comic Sans to wow the world.

It won’t.

Not only are the typefaces likely to clash, and when similar but not quite the same appear to be failed attempts to match a previously used typeface, but will likely leave the intended audience confused as recognizable patterns within the design will have been difficult to establish.

For the publications I worked with, we normally stuck to two primary typefaces: a serif and a sans-serif that complemented each other while being clearly distinguished. One would be used for the primary text while the other would be used for text which needed to stand apart a little such as a cutline.

Bolds, Italics, and Underlines

In an effort to draw attention to their product, would-be designers often make everything bold, italic, underlined, and bigger, bigger, bigger. Unfortunately, rather than drawing the audience in with eye-catching wonder, this merely makes everything on the page appear exactly the same—as if nothing was done to highlight the page except adding annoying, unnecessary visual detail. While such elements have their value, they should be used with purpose.


The typefaces within a publication should be used consistently. If headlines appear in Times New Roman bold throughout the first page of the publication, they should still be appearing that way on page twenty-four. This makes it easier for your audience to learn the patterns of the publication and find what they want. If they are made to work to find what they want, they will move on.