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What is the right font for my product labels?

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Font choice word cloud concept on white background

Choosing the right font for your product labels can often be difficult. There’s just such a huge variety of options, you could easily sit for many days looking at and comparing them all and end up just as confused and indecisive as when you started. A great tip is to start where you are. Your product will already have existing branding and you need to be consistent – unless you’re considering a re-brand. Your product labels also need to be clear in their specific application and print format. We’ve put together some tips on how to select the right font for your product label.

Think about sizing

The size of the final printed text is one of the most important things to consider, whether it’s the fine print details on a product label, or a huge printed banner.If you’re working on very small text, it is necessary to use a font that has distinct and clear shapes and very few decorative elements. Look for fonts that have more space between the characters to aid legibility. We recommend fonts such as Open Sans or Helvetica for this purpose. They’re both ‘sans serif’ fonts, which lack the extra details seen in other popular fonts such as Times New Roman. This prevents text looking as though it is merging together when printed in small sizes.

Open Sans is becoming more popular and comes in different versions

How important is the text?

Printed text can range in importance from the trivial to life saving, so you must consider how important it is for consumers to quickly and easily understand what you are communicating. Health and safety information, like warnings, normally present in fonts like Helvetica or Arial. It’s not the most creative choice, but their clear and bold design means the text is easy to read, which is imperative when you really need to communicate clearly.

In contrast, fun labels like school reward stickers wouldn’t be as exciting or engaging in a plain font! There are hundreds of fun script, paintbrush-style and decorative fonts available. Some fonts need a license to use them in print, so you will need to check before you download them. If you have an Adobe subscription, then you can access all Adobe Fonts at not extra cost.

Placement is important

You might think you can use a decorative font for a large format print, but what if it will be read from a considerable distance, or off-angle? If this is the case, it’s probably best to consider a more restrained font. Luckily, there’s still scope for choosing a font that has some personality, whilst reigning in the decoration somewhat – such as Futura or Baskerville.

Futura is available in many forms and variants, from ‘Light Condensed’ to ‘Heavy Oblique’

You should also consider what the lighting will be like in all the places your product labels are likely to frequent. If it’s going to be poor then a font which is overly stylised or contains lots of thin strokes is going to be difficult to read.

Brand Matching

This is one of the most important things to consider. How does the text compliment your existing branding? If you work for or own a large company that has internal brand guidelines, these should state in which cases each font can be used and normally account for size and legibility requirements also.

If you don’t have a set of guidelines for your brand, think about what fonts you have been using already. What font did you use in your logo? Is it suitable for your product label as well? Do you have a shop sign? It’s better to use something similar rather than introducing something that clashes. If in doubt, essentials such as Arial or Univers (or Caslon or Palatino if you’re looking for serif fonts) are typically the safest options.

Print and Production

A common problem is a font choice that doesn’t work well with a print process. This a really important consideration for any form of printed materials, not just labels. For example, Times New Roman was specifically developed to ensure optimal print quality for the production of The Times Newspaper in 1932.

Usually, serif fonts which have strong lines and even shapes work best for print across most processes. Calligraphy styles are best suited to high quality digital printing.

Times New Roman is a classic serif font

We’re happy to discuss the best options for each of our different production methods and how you can achieve a great label design. Give us a call at RGS Labels today.