Fonts are various typefaces (styles of letterings) that display as text characters. You can change them when writing with various word processing programs such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, including their size and appearance. Times New Roman has long been a standard default for many programs, although Calibri has since become the norm, likely because of its readability.
Choosing an appropriate font generally depends on your content and target audience. Many fonts are fun and whimsical, more suitable for casual or comical writing for friends or close acquaintances. In contrast, others assume a more formal tone, sometimes even appearing as archaic throwbacks to centuries past. There is a time and place for any font, but when it comes to business documents, the number one factor to consider is readability.
Types of Fonts
A seemingly endless library of font varieties exists, and graphic designers are always crafting more. In some cases, fonts are customized for a specific purpose or brand and can quickly become identified with an intellectual property. For example, Harry Potter has a custom font that is easily recognizable to anyone familiar with that series, just as the Diablo video game series is known for its distinctive text characters, which include a cross within the letter “O.” Fonts help establish a mood for a brand. Still, they do the same for a document, too. Most of the fonts we discuss below are available with Microsoft Word and most email providers, however, if you wish to create a brand, you may consider choosing custom fonts from Creative Fabrica.
A “serif” refers to a slight curve or projection extending from letters, adding a taste of decoration to traditional text. They help build an aura of trust and longevity, such as what an established brand may use. In addition, they set a formal tone that can be fitting for business documents.
Sans Serif Fonts
The word “sans,” while it makes its home in English, is borrowed from French and means “without.” In other words, Sans Serif fonts are those without the little embellishments, resulting in more uniform lettering. This results in a more clean and more modern style, creating a mood of stability. Fonts of this type are also standard for business documentation.
Some of the most elegant fonts, script fonts resemble handwriting, often appearing in sweeping cursive forms with plenty of curls and loops. They are expressive forms, showcasing creativity or affection, yet are better suited for ads or disparate sentences, as these typefaces can be challenging to read for extensive texts.
This style is better suited for expressive headings, as they are a hodge-podge of decorative character types of differing sizes. While they can have their place in business documents (largely dependent upon the brand and purpose of the writing), they are better suited for amusing and otherwise informal presentations.
The Top 10 Fonts for Business Documents
There is a reason why Calibri has gained such incredible popularity; after all, it seemed that nothing would topple Times New Roman as the dominant force in default fonts. That would be, of course, its readability. When writing a business document, you want the reader to glean the information within as efficiently as possible, and this sans serif font is straightforward to the eyes. This feature is a handy feature for longer documents.
2. Times New Roman
Even though Calibri presents a more modern look, Times New Roman remains a dominant choice for business documents, as it has for decades. A serif font provides more gentle curves to the reading experience, making it a more eye-catching style. As it remained incumbent for so long, many businesses use it traditionally, although it may seem outdated now for some readers, especially younger generations.
If you are looking for an alternative to the “big two,” Georgia is a serif typeface that reads well and invokes a friendly charm while maintaining formality. This is an excellent choice for brands wishing to loosen the tie without removing it entirely. It also looks particularly dashing on a computer screen.
Cambria resembles a thinner sibling of Georgia and is also of the serif family. With strong vertical hairlines, the letters appear a little thinner than its counterpart, so choosing between the two may be merely a matter of taste.
Sans serif fonts are generally cleaner reads because they lack any aesthetic additions, so if this is your cup of tea, the Verdana font is an excellent choice. A brainchild of the same designer as Georgia, this typeface shines on the computer screen. Still, it is also renowned for its appearance in print, making it a top choice for letters and other printed business paperwork.
While a sometimes controversial choice, Arial is a top font for Microsoft and Google documents, so it is a readily recognizable font. What differentiates it from others on this list is that it eschews some of its formality in exchange for a more welcoming presentation, as though it is inviting you to read further. However, it is a sans-serif option and maintains its smooth readability to encourage its audience to do just that.
Another screen-friendly option, Merriweather, presents a warm, distinguished atmosphere within the documentation. It presents well and is less common than the options that come before it, so if you are looking to take the road less traveled, this may be an appropriate choice, depending on your brand and message.
A relatively simple form lauded for legibility, Garamond is great when you have many paragraphs featuring smaller font sizes. It is also economical in printing, using less ink than most of its competitors.
This far down the list, you are likely seeking something that deviates from the norm but still gets the job done well. Although Roboto is a serif font, these features are subtle and designed to create a comfortable reading experience. While most fonts seem scrunched due to space considerations, Roboto is unconcerned with this, using a suitable amount of space to ensure that each letter is easily distinguished.
10. Book Antiqua
Based on pen-drawn Italian letters from the Renaissance, this style evokes a gentle feel different from most other typefaces. As the font name would indicate, this selection is excellent for a more extended script such as books, which means it specializes in easy consumption.