They’re big, they’re bold, they’re pretty quirky, but what is a Display font?
Typography series: What is a display typeface?
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.