Typography is often the workhorse of any design. Type is called on to communicate an actual message with clarity and legibility, while also handling the trickier, less tangible stuff of voice and tone. On top of all that, it has to be on-trend! Nothing makes a design fail harder and faster than an outdated or unstylish font choice. When it comes to fonts in 2019, bigger (and bolder) is better.
While delicate hand-drawn fonts dominated design for the first half of 2010’s, we’re now seeing the rise of large, bold type in every area of design. The stalwart sans-serifs like Arial and Helvetica will always reign supreme in the large type arena, but designers are starting to have more fun by embracing more fanciful full-bodied type options.
Wondering how to use the big, bold font trend? We’ve got tons of inspiring examples of products where they are showing up, along with lots of tips for harnessing their power in your next design.
What are bold fonts?
Before we can talk about using bold fonts in your designs, let’s define the trend a bit.
We’re talking about type-driven design: compositions where big, bodacious fonts take center stage and are impossible to miss. These are designs that aren’t afraid to sound shouty, where type is on equal footing with the graphic elements or even dominates the entire composition. The bold font trend grew out of the larger trend of minimalism–if the font is oversized, the rest of the composition can stay clean and simple. It’s like a large piece of statement art in an otherwise under-furnished room.
This trend favors the custom type, fonts that aren’t instantly recognizable. Many designers that are really leaning into this trend (like Scott Fuller’s gorgeous work above) craft a custom type treatment for each design. Other designers are using old favorites in new and surprising ways.
What bold fonts bring to the table
At a pure nuts and bolts level, bold fonts are difficult to miss. The designs work at a small size and tend to draw the eye away from gentler, subtle designs.
Whether you’re a consumer scanning shelves for a product or a user landing on a webpage or app for the first time, you feel a certain way when you’re greeted with large, bold typography. Bold fonts communicate certainty and confidence to a user.
Bold fonts are big right now. Here’s why.
The larger the font, the clearer the message.
If a potential customer lands on your website and you have hero text telling them in no uncertain terms what you do in 64 point font, you’ve created a more efficient, and perhaps more persuasive, experience for that user. The same applies to a bar of soap or book cover.
We live in a busy world with a lot of competing stimuli coming at us every moment of the day. Bold fonts help communicate a message or brand ethos quickly.
Bold fonts in action
Bold fonts have a wow factor. There’s also something about a big, bold font that feels confident and cool—who doesn’t want to be part of that? Not surprisingly, we’re seeing bold fonts infiltrate almost every area of design.
Web and app design
Web design was one of the first frontiers for the bold font trend. Combined with high quality authentic photography, a large type treatment will make a strong impression on users in very little time, using very few words.
There will always be those logos that downplay type entirely for a logomark-driven design. But we’re seeing lots of logos that aren’t afraid to embrace the bold type trend. It’s especially effective when the type feels tied in tonally to the logo design (same weight lines, same shape, etc), creating a thoughtful, coherent design.
Business card and poster design
Poster design is a place where bold fonts have always been the dominant style, dating back to the days when they were crafted on letterpresses. When we’re talking about a poster that needs to read clearly from five feet away, point size is important. Many designers have now applied that idea to business cards, where the first impression means absolutely everything.
Bold font treatments on packaging tell a potential customer straightaway what your brand is and what you want them to buy. Think about a brand where authenticity and sincerity are part of their identity—maybe its transparency of production, ethically produced or organically sourced ingredients, commitment to lack of chemicals found in bigger brands, etc. These are brands where the straightforward, no nonsense vibe of a bold type treatment can have a lot of appeal.
Book cover design
Bold fonts started to appear more and more on book covers in the late 2000’s with the rise of e-readers. More and more consumers were finding their books by scrolling on Amazon without ever touching or seeing a physical copy at all. While printed book sales have rebounded (and now outsell ebooks), the bold font trend leapt from the screen to the page. Walk into any bookstore and you’ll see shelves and shelves of what’s known as “big book” design with bold fonts.
Bolder is better
It’s obvious that strong, eye-catching typographic treatments are on-trend and here to stay. Like in every other arena, fortune clearly favors the bold! Now that you’ve seen how they can work in almost area of design, you can work the trend into your next design.