Font categories are a way of classifying or grouping fonts but there are 4 main font classifications – with serifs, those without serifs, scripts and decorative styles. Within each of these, there are a number of sub-categories for instance script type styles are broken into Formal, Casual, Calligraphic, Blackletter & Lombardic
For the sake of simplifying this article we will be using the following 5 categories:
- Serif fonts: classic, traditional (they’re the ones with little tails)
- Sans-serif: modern, casual (plain with no little tails)
- Script: feminine, romantic
- Handwriting: friendly, casual
- Brush script: artsy, fun
Once you’ve worked out the font category you want to use it’s time to choose a font. The following lists are by no means exhaustive but they are a great place to start.
What fonts work best & where?
Headings (these should be bold, clean fonts)
In web world these are written like so … <h1>Heading Here</h1> As far as SEO goes, you should only use the H1 tag once per page or post.
Abril Fatface | Aileron Heavy | Amaranth | Cooper Hewitt Heavy | Hammersmith One | League Gothic | Lillita One | Open Sans Extra Bold | Oswald | Raleway Heavy
Subheads (these compliment main headings but can also be used in main headings)
In web world … there are 5 sub-heading tags which are used logically throughout your page
This is so when Mr Google goes through your page he can tell what is the most important to least important information. Here is an example of our heading styles …
<h2>heading two </h2>
<h3>heading three </h3>
<h4>heading three </h4>
<h5>heading three </h5>
<h6>heading three </h6>
Aileron Thin | Aleo Light | Cantora One | Cooper Hewitt Thin | Coustard | Glegoo | Granaina | Julius Sans One | Kollektif | League Spartan | Merriweather | Montserrat | Quando | Quicksand | Raleway | Sanchez | Vidaloka
Body Text (this is where legibility is super important: most legible size is 12-14)
Generally serif fonts (the ones with the little tails at the end of strokes) are used in printed work & sans serif (so no little tails) were used in digital.
Aileron Regular | Alike | Antic | Arimo | Bodoni FLF | Droid Serif | Gidole | Lato | Lora | Roboto | Vollkorn
Script (use for highlights or very short headlines; 1-2 words)
Allura | Brusher | Clicker Script | Courgette | Euphoria Script | Grand Hotel | Great Vibes | Kaushan Script | Mr Dafoe | Niconne | Oloe Script | Parisienne | Pinyon Script | Satisfy | Yellowtail
Where-ever fonts (use these anywhere)
Fear not! These ones are safe to use anywhere, everywhere …
Helveticish | Libre Baskerville | Open Sans | PT Sans/Serif
There are fonts that play nicely together while others are deadly enemies so pairing the right fonts together can make or break your design. And pairing fonts can be tricky – why does one serif font work with this heading, and not the other? You want your font choices to have good contrast. For instance if you were using Aileron Thin for your headings you wouldn’t use Open Sans Light for your body copy because they are both light & rounded. It also depends on your brand and your message – what works beautifully in a kiddies shop will not be the same as what works for a hipster bar.
Here are some strong font combinations for you to use in your Canva designs.
Aleo Light, Alike, Arvo, Bodoni FLF, Droid Serif, IM Fell, Libre Baskerville, Lora, Merriweather, Playfair Display, PT Serif, Quattrocento, Sanchez, Vollkorn
Aileron Thin, Arimo, Bodoni FLF, Cooper Hewitt, Economica, Forum, Gidole, Helveticish, Lato, Luthier, Montserrat Light, Nunito Light, Old Standard, Open Sans Light, PT Sans, Raleway, Rosario
Cooper Hewitt Heavy
Alike, Antic, Archivo Narrow, Arimo, Droid Serif, Economica, Gidole, Kollektif, Lato, Lora, Montserrat Light, Nunito Light, Open Sans Light, PT Serif, Quattrocento, Raleway, Source Serif Pro, Tenor Sans
Aileron Thin, Antic, Economica, Gidole, Lato, Montserrat Hairline, Nunito Light, Open Sans, PT Sans, Raleway
Alike, Arvo, Droid Serif, Granaina, Libre Baskerville, Old Standard, PT Serif, Quattrocento, Vollkorn
Aileron Thin or Regular, Archivo Narrow, Arimo, Arvo, Cooper Hewitt, Economica, Exo, Gidole, Kollektif, Luthier, Montserrat Light, Nunito Light, Open Sans Light, PT Sans, Roboto, Signika
Open Sans Extra Bold
Aileron Regular, Aleo, Antic, Archivo Narrow, Arialle, Arvo, Bodoni FLF, Cooper Hewitt, Droid Serif, Economica, Gidole, Helveticish, Lato, Luthier, Montserrat Light, Nunito Light, Open Sans, PT Serif, Quattrocento, Raleway, Roboto Condensed, Source Serif Pro
Aileron Thin, Aleo Light, Alike, Cooper Hewitt, Forum, Gidole, Helveticish, Montserrat Light, Old Standard, Open Sans, PT Serif, Quattrocento, Source Sans Pro
Aileron Thin, Aleo Light, Antic, Archivo Narrow, Arvo, Cooper Hewitt, Droid Serif, Gidole, Kollektif, Lato, Lustria, Montserrat Light, Nunito Light, Open Sans Light, PT Serif, Quattrocento, Raleway, Sanchez, Source Serif Pro, Vollkorn
Use at your peril
Some of the Canva fonts have not got a mention in this post. They have been left out because fall into one of two categories: use sparingly, and only for certain situations; OR do not use, ever. (yes, I said never, ever, ever!) They are listed here because they are are illegible, overused, or just plain ugly.
Following are the fonts I advise you steer well clear of for general copy.
Allerta Stencil | Black Ops One | Cabin Sketch | Cody Star | Creepster | Emily’s Candy | Hitchcut | Londrina | UnifrakturMaguntia | VT323
Script, or handwriting fonts
Architect’s Daughter | Berkshire Swash | Chewy | Coming Soon | Crafty Girls | Dr. Sugiyama | Gochi Hand | Knewave | Lobster | Over the Rainbow | Princess Sofia | Schoolbell | Shadows into Light | Sniglet | Special Elite | Sunday | Vampiro One | Miscellaneous | Anonymous Pro
Any of the “Small Caps” fonts
Crushed | Germania One | Glass Antiqua | Graduate | Limelight | Megrim | Pirou | Ribeye | Rye | Sifonn Outline | Special Elite | Sunday
Using the right fonts at the right time is one way to level up the look of your graphics. But remember:
- You always want to maintain legibility, because if no one can read your stuff, you’ve just wasted your time designing.
- When choosing a font for your logo don’t follow trends too heavily or your precious logo will date .
- Use brand appropriate fonts. If you have a style guide, adhere to it. If you don’t have one, create one. Choose fonts that reflect your brand personality.
Keep this list handy as you continue designing for your business or if you’d prefer you can download & print our handy eBook, put it in a folder so it is at your finger tips when you need it.