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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

Creative branding agency: What is a display typeface?

Typography Series: Display

They’re big, they’re bold, they’re pretty quirky, but what is a Display font?

In this typography series, we understand what makes the selection of typography crucial. We explain how fonts help us to process information and how they change perceptions.

The good, the bad and the ugly

While they may not boast the beauty of high-end fonts, they form a diverse and eclectic ensemble of font display and display typeface, each serving its distinct and valuable purpose.

So, what is a display font?

Display fonts are part of a broad category and can generally be treated as such due to being used at large sizes, i.e. for headings. Because of this (and sometimes due to their varied and un-unified form), they are usually seen as unsuitable for the clarity needed for body copy.

Walter Tracy, a renowned English type designer, once described display typefaces as text that “when enlarged can be used for headings… if reduced, cannot be used for text setting.”

The unique appeal of display fonts, also known as font display or display typeface, stems from their rich heritage. These typefaces draw inspiration from various lettering styles, including handcrafted signs and calligraphy, which have harnessed the grandeur and drama found in display fonts. Consequently, they gained popularity in the early days of poster design.

They often have more eccentric and variable designs in comparison to the simple and more reserved typefaces associated with body copy. Their individual and prominent forms entice readers and help to create a mood or feeling for the piece.

Flexibility is key

Display fonts come in all different shapes and styles. These range from the inlined, script, ultra-bold and ultra-light, right through to distressed or hand-drawn. The genres in which display fonts are inspired are extensive.

Take a look at some of the examples below.

Example fonts: Abril Fatface, Alfa Slab One, Diplomata, Lobster, Averia Snas Libre, Bungee, Luckiest Guy, Plaster

Display fonts can be used to aid either formal or informal designs. In addition, their individual, unique and expressive forms remain popular among today’s typography. Though originally more popular in print, they have become popular online since the invent of web fonts.

Typography fact

It turns out typography design wasn’t all that back in the nineteenth century. Some display typefaces were designed to be extremely and over-aggressively bold purely to attract attention.

Need some help?

There are many things to consider with a font whether it be in your logo or your day to day use. All Threerooms brands are created with carefully crafted logos and considered fonts.

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An award-winning branding agency, Threerooms has spent over 15 years making brands stronger and businesses more successful. Whether modernising brands with meaning or crafting effective marketing campaigns, our amazing team is focused on delivering brand transformation while providing exceptional customer service

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