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Working with Handwriting Fonts

This article appeared in Issue 141 of InDesign Magazine.

Handwriting fonts can help you connect with your audience—just be sure to avoid the clichés.

Playful, elegant, or quirky, type with a handwritten vibe can add authenticity or informality—or possibly both—to your print or screen projects. Handwriting fonts accentuate the personal and the organic. Used well, they can take a message and give it that extra something—be it warmth, friendliness, or humanity. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion and handwriting fonts can tap into fond memories. Like a typewriter font, handwriting reminds us of a pre-digital age—a mythical time when everything was cheaper, politicians were honest, and summers were longer. They can also convey a personal relationship between designer and audience. As consumers, we’re not stupid. We know it’s just a font, but we’re happy to suspend our disbelief—just as we do when watching a film or play. The conventions of drama differ from real life, and we accept them. Just as we seek out fiction to experience other lives and escape the humdrum of our own, we like to read handwritten type to escape the 9-to-5 of neutral body fonts. We’re aware of the artifice, but we’re happy to play along—up to a point.

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Nigel French is a graphic designer, photographer, author, and teacher living in Lewes, UK. He is the author of InDesign Type, and a LinkedIn Learning Instructor with many courses on design and typography.