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Typography series: What is a Display font?

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

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

They might not be the prettiest collection of typefaces, perhaps more of a motley crew of fonts! However, they do serve their own perfectly unique 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 Display fonts unique appeal originates from their heritage. They take their inspiration from other genres of lettering, such as handcrafted signs and calligraphy which used the grandeur and drama of these typefaces. Because of this, they become popular in the creation of early 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.

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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.

Display font examples

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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A specialist brand agency 

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.   

Enjoyed this post? Check out our Colour Psychology series, where we explore how colour in branding is carefully chosen to influence us in our daily lives.

Check out our other articles in the series:

Serif font
Sans-serif font
Slab-serif font
Monospace font