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The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

Tips for Selecting a Font That Enhances Your Emails

The Importance of Choosing the Right Font

I was a ‘90s kid. I grew up using Windows 95, a 56k modem connection, and a text design tool called WordArt.

Here’s the type of thing I spent my time in computer class working on:

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

Looks great, right?

Thankfully, that phase didn’t last long (though we did use WordArt in almost every school presentation). Because as fun as it was to make something unique and colorful, it didn’t do much for the words it designed.

In the marketing and newsletter world, choosing a professional font ensures that readers receive emails that don’t give them a headache. It’s also an important branding element that can set your company apart. In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • What is the best font to use in a professional email?

  • What is the most attractive business font?

  • How can I make sure my font is readable on all devices?

Tip: Changing your default font in beehiiv is simple. From your dashboard, go to Settings -> Website and then scroll down to the Typography section. You’ll see options for changing your newsletter’s header font, body font, and button font.

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

Factors To Consider When Choosing a Font

Something all too common in the days of WordArt was that you’d spend time designing it, only to have readers say: What IS this? Suddenly, that shadow effect didn’t seem so cool.

As a creator, your audience expects emails that are legible and that align with your brand. It doesn’t matter how cool or unique an email looks on your desktop – what matters is how it’s received. A professional email needs to be readable, consistent with your brand, and compatible with all devices.

Readability

Designing your newsletter is an effective way to grow an audience and establish your brand. In most cases, though, visual creativity doesn’t trump meaningful content. The most engaging story won’t be read if it’s hard on the eyes.

Readable fonts are easy to scan, they don’t confuse characters, and they look good in a variety of sizes. 

Professionalism

Which example below would look better in a professional setting?

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

or

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

Okay, Comic Sans (example A) isn’t quite as bad as I remember. If I were an elementary school teacher, I would think that it actually looks pretty nice. 

In general, though, something like example B will be perceived as more professional. It uses a clean and easy-to-read font that isn’t too casual. 

Disclaimer: Example B contains a font called Roboto. You won’t find it in the list of recommended fonts below, but it’s a popular choice for something custom – and a personal favorite of mine. Roboto is the default font for Android, Google Play, YouTube, Google Maps, and Google Images.

Brand Consistency

Staying on brand matters more than rigidly following the rules of font selection. This goes against pretty much everything we’ve talked about thus far, but it’s an important caveat to consider. If your company likes to use the Finger Paint font, you should use it, too.

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

Brand consistency is especially important for newsletter creators looking to build an audience. Readers recognize your emails as soon as they hit their inbox. Surprising them with a new font is a curveball that they will not catch.

Why Trust Me? I spend four to eight hours a day writing professional emails in Gmail and content in Google Docs. Readability will continue to be an essential part of email marketing in 2024, and I’m all for it.

Compatibility

If a custom or less common font is part of your brand, it may not be compatible with all platforms. In most cases, the receiver’s email client will revert to a default font, like those listed below:

  • Gmail: Arial

  • iCloud: Helvetica

  • Microsoft Outlook: Calibri

That doesn’t mean using a custom font is a bad idea – but it is important to remember when designing your email.

Top Fonts for Business Emails

The most popular fonts are broken up into two categories: serif and sans-serif. Distinguishing between serif and sans-serif is simple:

  • Serif fonts are recognized by the small tails at the end of characters.

  • Sans-serif fonts don’t have small tails at the end of characters.

The following fonts are some of the safest choices for sending a professional email.

Arial

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

Arial is the most common sans-serif font used both online and in print. It’s easy to read, suitable for casual and professional messages, and plays nicely with graphic design.

Arial is also the default font in Google Docs. And since some people practically live in Google Docs (myself included), Arial is a great choice for maintaining focus on the message – not the font.

Verdana

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

With characteristics inherited from pixels rather than pens or brushes, it’s no exaggeration to say that Verdana was made for computer screens (and, in turn, emails).

Verdana is a sans-serif font with spacing that makes it one of the most legible fonts available today. Characters that sometimes get confused for others (like i, j, l, and the number 1) were given special attention to ensure on-screen readability.

Trebuchet MS

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

Verdana isn’t the only font that was specifically designed for screens. Trebuchet MS is a sans-serif font that emphasizes clean lines to promote legibility.

One of the great things about Trebuchet MS is its readability at small sizes. Many programs default to 11pt or 12pt; but if you want a more condensed message, Trebuchet stays readable even down to 8pt.

Tahoma

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

This font family is often used in web content and is particularly suited for small dialog boxes and menus. Tahoma is a sans-serif font family with slim letters and tight spacing.

If you’re sending emails on behalf of a newsletter, Tahoma also pairs nicely with graphic design.

Times New Roman

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

This serif font made its first appearance in The Times of London newspaper, way back in 1932. 

Since its old-style lettering characteristics transferred nicely to on-screen text today, Times New Roman is often regarded as the go-to font for printed and electronic marketing.

Georgia

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

Lightened uppercase letters and an increased x-height make the Georgia font a serif choice that combines readability with character and personality.

In emails, Georgia brings a professional and charming vibe.

Palatino

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

Palatino is a serif font family used extensively in print and digital media. It’s ideal for use in long-form content like books, newsletters, and catalogs.

As a creator, Palatino is a font worth considering. It gives newsletters a sleek, artistic look without being distracting.

Fonts To Avoid in Business Emails

When it comes to writing a professional email, choosing a font that best fits your audience is vital. But all fonts aren’t created equal–and some are probably best left alone.

Here are a few fonts to avoid when sending your next email.

Comic Sans

I used Comic Sans extensively in 7th grade. It was fun and gave everything I wrote a happy feeling. I’m pleased to say that 7th grade didn’t last forever – and neither did Comic Sans.

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

Comic Sans came packaged along with Windows 95 and was originally designed for use in comic speech balloons. It’s easy to read, but probably not the best idea when it comes to sending a professional email.

Papyrus

If you’re on the design team for a box office movie like Avatar, feel free to use a Papyrus-esque font. For emails, though, this type of font isn’t the easiest to read. That’s especially true when sending long-form content in a newsletter.

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

Brush Scripts

This is an interesting one because I’ve seen Brush Scripts mentioned on lists of fonts to use in emails. Here’s the issue: Brush Scripts aren’t easily readable. They may add a bit of sophistication, but sending an email written in cursive likely won’t do anything for your message.

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an Email Font

Now, that’s not to say brands using custom fonts are doing something wrong. Designing a unique brand is often what sets newsletters apart.

Custom Fonts and Branding

Whether or not to use a custom font depends on your brand and what your readers expect to see. Use custom fonts when:

  • They fit better with your graphic design.

  • They are a necessary part of your brand’s image.

  • They won’t cause hiccups if an email client defaults to a different font.

Font Size and Formatting

There’s no one-size-fits-all for email font sizing. The design, length, message, and formatting of an email all play a role in determining which size font to use. That being said, readability is still the No. 1 factor to consider.

Ideal Font Size for Readability

Settling on a font size can be tricky when establishing a brand. Too big and your email design will look distorted and loud (especially on mobile devices). Too small and you’ll quickly lose the attention of your audience.

The general rule of thumb is to choose a font size somewhere between 10pt and 16pt for the email body. Google Docs defaults to 11pt, whereas Gmail uses 10pt. 

Appropriate Formatting for Professional Emails

We could fill an entire article with email formatting tips.

  • Should you keep paragraphs short? 

  • How long should a professional email be?

  • Should you stick with one font size throughout the entire email?

Disclaimer: We did fill an entire article with email newsletter formatting tips.

Saying there’s a single best way to format professional emails would be overly ambitious and wouldn’t work as a standard across all industries. Just remember:

  • Readability is king.

  • Staying on brand is more important than following rules.

  • How an email is perceived matters more than how it looks to a designer.

Mobile Responsiveness

Fonts that look great on a 27-inch monitor might not display properly on a 6-inch screen. And since more than 55% of emails are opened on mobile devices, device responsiveness matters more than ever.

Optimizing Fonts for Mobile Reading

Have you ever received an email that didn’t render properly? At best, it looks like a glitch. Graphic design crumbles, nothing lines up, and text wraps around in the weirdest ways.

In most cases, incompatible emails are an easy fix. All you have to do is test your email on a mobile device before sending it. The majority of email and newsletter platforms allow you to see how your email would appear on a phone or desktop browser. 

Send a test email, adjust the design to fit both digital worlds, and let it fly.  

Choosing the right email font is an important step in establishing your brand and growing your audience. With our referral program, boosts, and the largest ad network in the newsletter industry, beehiiv is there to help you grow every step of the way. 

See how easy it is to create and send an eye-catching newsletter with beehiiv today!

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