A font is a style of printing the letters of the alphabet. There are hundreds of them, and most of them are available on your laptop, desktop, tablet, or any other electronic device that allows typing.
There are classic fonts, there are Olde English fonts, there are stylized fonts, and they all make the typed word appear different. In some cases, that difference matters a great deal.
It matters to Apple, which announced this month that it is going to use its Apple Watch font, named San Francisco, on all of its devices, replacing the popular Helvetica Neue. The San Francisco font was developed specifically for the Apple Watch to improve readability on the watch’s small screen.
Going forward, Apple plans to switch fonts for its iPhones, IPads and Macs, although Mac users can switch to any font they want for typing purposes.
The extent of the switch, and the reason, could be announced at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference in June.
On May 26, Volkswagen made a major announcement related to advertising, but it wasn’t a new campaign, or a new focus. Volkswagen announced that it was using a new font for its brand, and that the new font would be found on all of the company’s stationary, brochures, and on every new vehicle dashboard, information system, and exterior labeling.
For readers who know this sort of thing, the previous font was called VW Utopia, and the current one is called Volkswagen Text. Volkswagen says the new font is “more contemporary, less geometric, and features dynamic contrast. It is definitely different, as can be seen here.
Career counselors and employment agencies encourage job seekers to use two of the better known fonts, such as Times New Roman (stylized) or Arial (basic).
“Since a prospective employer is looking at the resume for only seconds, you want (a font) that is aesthetically pleasing and grabs the employer’s attention at a quick glance,’’ said certified professional resume writer Wendi Weiner in an interview with Business News Daily.
But a survey of three professional resume writers by Bloomberg Business returned the opinion that Times New Roman is a death knell for job seekers. The font to use, one that is endorsed by journalism schools across the country as well, is Helvetica.
“Helvetica is so no-fuss, it doesn’t really lean in one direction or another,’’ said Brian Hoff, creative director of Brian Hoff Design. “It feels professional, light-hearted, honest. Helvetica is safe.”
“Helvetica is beautiful,’’ said Matt Luckhurst, creative director at brand consultant Collins from San Francisco. “If it’s me, Helvetica. There is only one Helvetica.”
Last year, a 14-year-old in Pittsburgh published a research paper suggested his school district change its font for printed materials from Times New Roman to Garamond, and that the change would save the district $21,000 annually. He then suggested the federal and state governments could save as much as much as $400 million a year by changing the font on its printed material, because Garamond is thinner and uses less ink.
“Ink is two-times more expensive than French perfume by volume,’’ teenager Suvir Mirchandani told CNN.
The United States spends $467 million on ink annually.
In September of 2014, Twitter changed its fonts, moving from Gotham Narrow to three other fonts depending on the device used (Arial, Helvetica and Droid Sans were the choices used). The change met with widespread disapproval, with much of that disapproval declared on social media, such as Twitter.
“Eeww. What’s up with Twitter’s new font?” asked one Twitter response.
So there you have it. Fonts matter. Perhaps not to you, but to someone you know.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.