Choosing fonts that work is an essential part of ensuring your social media graphics successfully communicate your message to your audience.
A social media manager is two parts analyst and one-part creative designer, with a sprinkling of customer care expertise thrown in too. To succeed in the creative part you don’t have to be an accomplished graphic designer. However, having some basic knowledge of typography and the impact that it can have will make all the difference.
Choosing fonts for your social media graphics is a simple enough process, provided you are aware of the basic principles of typography. Fonts are about way more than making something look nice. They have a whole host of other effects, including subconsciously accentuating and drawing attention to certain aspects of a brand.
When you make social media graphics it’s important to ask yourself what sort of impression you want to have on your audience. Obviously, certain typographic decisions will be made by your brand for consistency’s sake. But beyond that, you want to be intentional with your typographic decisions.
Types of fonts and their personalities
Different fonts have different personalities – anybody who has ever seen a make-up brand next to a body-builder’s food supplement can tell you that. The fonts you use will have an impact on how your brand is viewed.
There is a huge variety of different fonts and each will have a different feel. Be that sophisticated, practical, elegant, cool, efficient, etc,. Most typefaces can be classified into basic groups. A number of sub-categories exist, but we won’t bother ourselves with those at this level.
Below is a list of how each basic group is often viewed/described. It is missing decorative types of fonts as these vary immensely and are more associated with high-spec design.
- Serif: professional, traditional, dignified, classical
- Sans Serif: clear, approachable, relaxed, personable
- Script: fanciful, opulent, classy, unique
- Monospace: plain, unassuming, technical, functional
It is worth mentioning at this point that comic sans is technically a script font, which is not opulent and certainly not classy. Rather, the script fonts that you would ever consider using (brush script, allura, and the like) can be described that way.
If you value your social media audience (or your brand in general) never, ever use comic sans.
Choosing fonts for your social media graphics
The best way to choose fonts is to take into account your branding and any fonts that you should obviously be using, and find other fonts that compliment these. The best social media graphics make use of a small pool of fonts, often only three or four, of which only two are used for each graphic.
Consistency is the keyword here. Having this pool of fonts not only helps right now but will assist you in the long term as you create more graphics. Choosing which fonts to use will depend on what parts of your brand you want to compliment or accentuate.
Once you’ve decided on the style of font you want to use, head to your graphic creation platform and get designing. If you’re using a web app like Canva (and you don’t pay for their reasonable premium service) then you will be limited as to what fonts they allow you to choose from. Otherwise, check out Google Fonts or Lost Type.
Want to take your design skills to the next level? Learn the 12 Principles of Graphic Design in our infographic here.
Article originally published in 2019, updated for relevance in 2023.