T-Shirt Fonts – The Importance and Method of Choosing the Right Ones
If you have a t-shirt business, these are words that have likely haunted you at some point in your career.
Going into the business, you had never thought choosing a FONT would be so much trouble, right? There were greater things to worry about such as the fabric, colors, sizes, cost, and more.
But you were wrong.
Nowadays, less is more – youngsters prefer clothing that is not over-done with designs, colors or embellishments. Often, they go for minimalistic shirts with a few words in – wait for it – a great font!
But you can stop worrying because we will show you how you can achieve the perfect combination that will appeal to your customers and greatly enhance your sales.
Before we do that, let’s take a look at what typography is and try to understand its importance.
Understanding Typography, Font, and Typeface
Typography – Typography is basically the design or style of the text, as well as how it is arranged in a particular space to get the desired look.
Typeface – A typeface contains letters, numbers, and symbols among other things that follow the same style. An example would be Calibri.
Font – A font is a typeface that is a particular size and style. So bolded and italicized text in the typeface Calibri, size 12, is an example of a font.
All of this seems very basic.
And it is – when you’re completing an assignment in Word. But when it comes to anything more complicated than that, you have to give typography a great deal of thought.
In art and design or when you are making decisions regarding typography in shirt designs, you have to keep many things in mind.
What style do I want the text to be in?
What size should it be?
Do I want it slanting to the right or straight?
What color should I use?
Does the combination I’ve reached after making all these decisions work?
No? Back to step one!
Let’s talk about it!
Why T-Shirt Font Matters
Can you imagine using the font ‘Chiller’ for the text ‘Hope?’
Or could you use ‘Magneto’ for a t-shirt with a traditional message?
The answer to both of these questions, understandably, is no. Why? Because they just don’t go together.
But there is more to it than that.
People are subconsciously affected by fonts. The layout, style, and structure of the text they are looking at is what gives them their first impression – it is what makes them feel good about the thing associated with the text or otherwise.
Now put that in the context of text that will appear on a person’s t-shirt.
The clothes we wear reflect our personal style. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that they are a glimpse into us as a person. Thus, the best shirt designs are those that complement our personality and scream out who we are before we even get a chance to introduce ourselves.
A t-shirt font contributes to that – the text and the way it is displayed tells someone a little bit about the person wearing the shirt.
But more importantly:
It makes us feel better about ourselves and helps us feel perfectly in our element.
So although you may never have thought about it like this, fonts trigger certain emotional responses from the wearer of the shirt, as well as the people around them.
And that is why you need to pick out the best fonts for the t-shirts you design.
So how do you do it?
Read on and find out.
Choosing the Best Fonts for T-Shirts
Not too long ago, ‘choosing’ a font and constructing a word with it consisted of using metal templates of different letters and putting them together to see if they worked. If they didn’t – which they wouldn’t for at least the first few attempts – you would have to start from scratch.
Today, we have it a lot easier. All we have to do is choose a font from a dropdown menu at the most basic level and we’re good to go.
Don’t like the result?
Change it with just a few clicks.
Nowadays, we can keep changing things with a few simple motions (some mouse clicks and keyboard taps in this case) until we reach the perfect end result – or close enough to it at least.
But do you want to know how you can reduce the number of attempts it takes you to reach the perfect t-shirt font style?
You need to follow the steps we have mentioned below.
But before you do that, it is important to note one very important thing:
There is no such thing as the best font for t-shirts. What works for one style, one color, one message will not work for another.
The ideal font will be different based on your message, as well as the other design elements of the shirt. So we can’t give you a set formula but here’s what we can give you: a useful guide on choosing the best fonts.
Determine the Message You Want to Give
Text isn’t all that meets the eye – there are hidden meanings behind words that require context to decipher.
But even if you don’t go that deep and focus on the word or collection of words on a particular shirt, you need to know exactly what message you want it to give out.
You can be as creative as you want as long as the fancy words you use don’t get in the way of you delivering the intended message.
Focus on the Essence of the Message
The ‘voice’ of the text is a major consideration.
By voice, we mean the essence of what you are trying to say. This is what will trigger the emotional response we talked about earlier. And that will achieve what you have set out to achieve: to get the message across in the perfect tone, in the perfect way.
Find Fonts that Sit Well with the Message
Now that you have determined the message you are trying to convey and the impact you want it to have, you can start experimenting with all the different fonts you think may work.
You will already know this, as a designer, but the fonts available to you are not restricted to the few dozen that come loaded in your system – there are thousands upon thousands of fonts that you can use.
But more on that later.
The key to giving yourself the greatest chance of success is to experiment with lots and lots of shirt fonts. You may think you have reached the best one on your third or fourth try but you must always go on.
Come up with as many good fonts for the t-shirt as you possibly can.
Before we discuss the rest of the steps, let’s analyze a shirt based on these three points.
Take a look at this shirt.
What is the message it wants to give?
Simply that the person is craving to go to the beach or they are at the beach because they couldn’t resist the urge.
What is the voice/essence of the message?
The text makes the reader think of the soothing, relaxing, fun or adventurous feeling that comes from being at the beach (this may differ for different people).
How does the font and its placement complement the message?
The combination of wavy (pun intended), casual typefaces, paired with different sizes for different parts of the text, as well as the swirls and twirls, give a relaxing feel. You can almost hear the ocean and find yourself taking a walk down memory lane.
And that is just the effect that the designer wanted.
Now, moving on:
Pair the Fonts with Other Design Elements
As important as the font is for the t-shirt, it does not work alone.
It is part of a larger design plan that includes many other things such as the
- Color/s of the text
- Color of the shirt
- Placement of the text
- Size of different parts of the text
- And so on.
A font that fits the text perfectly on its own may not work with the color scheme you have in mind. One that looks great in a certain shade may look hideous in others.
This means that the best shirt fonts are those that have been shortlisted after they have been tested with all the design elements that make the shirt.
Choose the Best T-Shirt Font Design from the Shortlisted Options
At this stage, you will have a couple of fonts in various designs, sizes, colors, etc. We suggest coming to back to these later.
Concentrating on the minor details of something can sometimes make it hard for you to see it as a whole again. At least straight away.
Give yourself a break and come back to your final options with a fresh mind. Once you do, the better design will usually pop out and be quite easy to spot.
If it doesn’t, you can give yourself more time or ask a colleague for some advice.
Trust Your Aesthetic Sense and Judgment
While it is okay, and even recommended at times, to ask other people for advice and suggestions, you need to trust your own judgment.
Aesthetic sense and knowing what works where, when, are skills that you can enhance along the way but you need to trust in your ability to reach the perfect end result.
Don’t Stick to the Same Design Elements
While it is important for your brand to have a distinctive voice, using the same design elements, including your favorite t-shirt fonts, over and over again eventually become boring.
And your customers will notice.
You will end up having nothing new to offer to them and they will eventually stop picking you.
So it is important to mix it up every once in a while and never stop experimenting – that is the only way you will broaden your design horizons and stay in the game.
Identifying Good T-Shirt Fonts from Bad Ones
This is where your judgment and aesthetic sense come into the picture. With practice, you will instantly be able to spot a good or bad font.
A good font will instantly make you feel good. Paired with the actual message and the other design elements, it will trigger a positive emotional response, transport you to another place, and just make you happy.
Bad typography, on the other hand, will instantly feel off. You will know that something is wrong, even if you are unable to put your finger on it. It will make you feel uneasy – even elicit a negative emotional response.
This goes for others’ designs but, more importantly, for your own. And it helps you make the design better.
We have discussed in detail how you can choose the best t-shirt fonts.
But what do you choose from?
We haven’t forgotten our promise of sharing with you resources where you can get thousands of great fonts.
Here they are!
Top Resources for Fonts
As a designer, you can never have too many fonts. There will come a point when you just won’t be able to find a font on your computer or software that clicks. And that is when this list will come in handy!
Here is a list of some of the best places you can find t-shirt fonts for free.
- Google Fonts
- Font Squirrel
- 1001 Free Fonts
- The League of Moveable Type
- Behance Free Fonts
- Font Library
- What the Font
Some resources have both options for you – free and paid. Examples include:
Others you have to pay for to use, such as
There are rules and regulations governing the use of fonts. Find out more by giving this blog post a read: The Law on Fonts and Typefaces in Design and Marketing: Frequently Asked Questions (about commercial and non-commercial use)
By this point, you must be ready to start experimenting with t-shirt font styles with a fresh outlook.
Remember, it is always about getting the message across in the perfect way possible.
So whether you like the falling letters font or the bachelorette font is your favorite, you need to base your decision not on personal preferences but on the message, the voice, and the other design elements among other things.
Do that and we guarantee that your words will have the desired impact and you will build a loyal base of customers who will keep coming back for more.
Got anything to add? Share it in the comments section below!