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10 Fixes for Font Foibles!

Investing just a little time in setting up appropriate fonts will dramatically improve the impact of your maps, whether you are mapping for personal use or collaborating with teams.

Ten tips to start our conversation around font best practices:

  1. Use sharp contrast between fonts and background colors.
  2. Stick to standard fonts that are common across computers if you’ll be sharing your map. If the displaying computer doesn’t have your font installed, another font will be substituted — potentially skewing the impact you had intended.
  3. Be consistent. Stick to two to three fonts throughout your map. The fewer, the better.
  4. Vary font style (bold, italics), size, color and effects (underline, strikethrough).
  5. Apply different fonts to represent different types of content (e.g. quotes, links, important information, etc…).
  6. Mind the variations in size and legibility and ensure that your choices work for map presentations.
  7. Limit your use of all capital letters — it’s perceived as SHOUTING!
  8. Avoid script fonts, especially for presentations as they’re hard to read on monitors and nearly impossible to read when projected.
  9. Stay away from italics too unless you’re trying to make a point. When you use them, it’s easier to read when you use bold + italics.
  10. Increase your font size when making map presentations.

And, for additional consideration, I tend to use my largest fonts in the center and then reduce the size of the font as I expand my map into greater details. That’s a general rule. At times I break the rule and increase a topic’s font to emphasize that topic’s relative importance compared to other topics in the same level. Here’s an example of font settings from one of my standard map templates:

Have any font tips to share?
Add your comments below.

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About the Author: Michael Deutch is Mindjet’s Chief Evangelist, content contributor for the Mindjet Blog and the Mindjet Connections newsletter. Get more from Michael on Twitter.

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