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What Are the Best Fonts for Labels?

What Are the Best Fonts for Labels?

You finally have it: the perfect logo. You’ve put in countless hours into tweaking every color and perfecting every line. But there’s still one choice that threatens to make-or-break everything:

The font.

A font can be a tricky thing. It needs to be eye-catching, but legible. Your eyes shouldn’t glaze over it, but it shouldn’t distract. It needs to be readable at a glance—but still pop. If it feels like a high-wire juggling act, that’s because it is. 

And it’s worth getting it right! Font psychology finds that everything from letter spacing to letter shape affects customer perception of your brand. If you nail it, you’ll have an iconic logo. And you can keep using that logo time and time again to make more sales. (After all, how much does Coca-Cola love that initial investment they made into their signature “cursive” font?)

Choosing the right font is both a science and an art, and it requires a healthy balance of both. Some of the best fonts to use for labels include:

  • Georgia
  • Garamond
  • Open Sans
  • Helvetica
  • Arial

Keep reading to explore how you can pick the font that makes sense for the kind of customers you want to attract.


What Makes a Font “Readable”?

The best fonts for labels have to be easy to read, or else there’s not much point. So, let’s dive into the elements of a readable font:

  • Contrast: Is the font contrasting enough with the surrounding elements to stand out? For example, if you have a hot sauce label with fiery graphics, you probably don’t want your font to be fire-themed as well because it will blend into the background.
  • Spacing between letters. Too little? Too much? It can be difficult to figure out without some tweaking. If you have a round bottle, your spacing should be tighter so that the most essential information is fully visible from the front. It’s wise to experiment; try a few iterations until you choose the spacing that works best for your label—too tight and it’s hard to read, too loose and it looks overly grandiose.
  • Distinction: Many fonts use the same shape for different letters. Depending on the font, one, lowercase L, and capital I can all look like the same symbol. To avoid confusion, it’s often wise to use distinct fonts with entirely unique characters.  
  • Using dyslexic-friendly fonts: Typically, less “crowded” fonts are the most accessible. Sans serif fonts, like Arial, are widely used for this reason—as are Verdana, Calibri, and Century Gothic. That doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with your brand font, only that reader-friendly fonts are helpful for smaller print, like ingredients, descriptions, and disclosures. 

    5 Highly Legible Fonts for Your Labels

    Once you have an idea of what you want your font to look like, it’s time to narrow it down. Let’s get specific with some of the most popular, legible font choices and explore the positives of each. Remember, you should be creative when it comes to your brand logo and font. It’s only the smaller, granular text areas that should always be in more legible fonts. When it comes to strong branding, every choice counts! 


    Georgia Font


    Georgia. Georgia is a type of sans serif font that has a “classic” look to it—use all capital letters and it already reads like a label. It’s especially good at evoking that sense of “classic” flavor. The bolder you go, the more confident it looks.


    Garamond font


    Garamond. Garamond is popular in printing books, a fact that attests to its basic readability. It’s also light, a little on the thin side, with plenty of empty space. It’s generally better for an elegant touch, which is excellent if you sell a premium product or want to emphasize the upscale nature of your offerings.


    Open Sans Font


    Open Sans. Open Sans is plain, simple, clear, and incredibly popular. The professional crispness and legibility make this a perfect font for small text on “everyday” brands. Certainly, a font to keep in your back pocket. 


    Helvetica Font


    Helvetica. Helvetica is bold, strong, and has a modern look to it that’s ideal for showing off revolutionary, new products. Helvetica was specifically crafted for signage, which is why it works so well with large labels, advertisements, flyers, and just about anything that needs a nice, clear, neutral tone.


    Arial Font


    Arial. Arial is one of the most prominent fonts on the web, and for obvious reasons. It offers stark clarity even when you’re looking at small letters on a screen. That said, Arial uses “mirrored character,” meaning symbols like q and p are mirror images of the same shape. While that makes the font more consistent, it can sometimes cause issues for customers with reading disorders. 


    Making the Most of Your Fonts

    These fonts are tried and true, a good starting place—but they may not be your final destination. Choosing a font style is just the beginning, you also need to consider the other elements that make for cohesive branding. 


  • Going Bold: Bold can make a higher impact, but it can also make the font appear “busier,” which can impact its legibility. If you go bold, you may want to increase letter spacing. 
  • Color In the Lines: Take Coca-Cola’s classic white over red. A good color combination can inspire your appetite (McDonald’s and Coca-Cola) or suggest a more modern tone (think of Apple black-and-white-and-gray themes). Remember to choose contrasting colors; in fact alcohol labels require it. Contrasting colors will help your text stand out against the background texture, making it easier for customers to read.
  • It’s Elementary Design: Whether you want one letter to extend into graphic design elements like arrows or circles—or if you prefer a clean, minimalistic look—every choice will impact how people perceive your brand. Be clear about the elements of design you choose to incorporate and make sure you can justify every choice.

    Of course, all that work will go to waste if you don’t put your new design to use. Stomp’s nifty design tool and near-instant proofs will make sure your custom labels are the best around.

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    • Nashira Edmiston