Lettering Design: A Guide to Designing Fonts

Typography plays an integral role in design. It helps set the mood, elicit emotions and enable readers to form an opinion before reading the content. Typography also contributes to legibility, hierarchy, and brand recognition. Understanding the fundamentals of choosing and applying the right font pairing can enhance your designs substantially. This piece focuses on the importance of fonts and how to create your own custom font.

The importance of fonts

Guides the reader

Fonts guide the reader on what is essential when consuming content. They help establish information hierarchies that guide the reader to identify the part of the text that is more important. Fonts are used in both digital and paper formats to show the different actions, speeches, emotions, or emphasis. Font can also help readers to look for specific information quickly, thus improving readability.

Create logical sequence

Fonts help create a rational sense of continuity in a text. Ideally, you can leverage an array of distinctive fonts to demarcate your texts appropriately, which may mean using different types of fonts on your H1, H2, and H3, to help the reader understand the parts that should be read first.

Helps establish your identity

You can also leverage distinctive fonts to develop your identity in your reader's minds. As a brand, consider using a specific type of font in your design and communications to develop and reinforce recognition of your brand. This ensures that whenever the font is used anywhere else, people will remember your brand.

It helps establish the tone and mood in text

Font styles and typefaces are critical because they help set a mood in communication. The choice of font styles determines how your communication will be perceived. For example, using a fun font to communicate a serious message will likely result in poor reception of the message. Likewise, using a serious business font when launching a new video game may prevent the message from getting across as intended. Examples of successful font use cases:

  • Waltograph: The font used by Walt Disney Script creates a happy and light mood that connects well with what the company offers-entertainment
  • English Towne font: This font is used by the New York Times and creates a serious old-school undertone that goes hand in hand with the serious formal business the company engages in.

How to create your own font

Step 1: Outline a design brief

The first step to building a custom font is to outline your objectives from the outset. Determine whether your font is intended for a specific project or for a broader application. You should also decide whether the application requires a large or small font size. Importantly, research specific fonts that you could use for inspiration.

Step 2: Start on paper

When starting out, fight the temptations to go straight to your software. Instead, use pen and paper to work on the early stages of your design. When creating shapes representing your vision, it is often easier and quicker to do it on paper than on software.

Step 3: Choose an ideal software

There are several free applications that you can use for your intermediate typography design. However, ensure you select an option that feels comfortable to use while offering proper functionality to get the job done. Ideally, you can try two to three options first to determine the one you are most comfortable with.

Step 4: Start creating

Upon installing your software, you are now set to begin creating your preferred font. Ideally, each type of software comes with its own learning curve, and the process can be lengthy at the beginning. However, once you get used to it, you will start enjoying the process.

Depending on your choice of software, you can start from scratch or upload images of your paper drawing for editing. Once your control characters are translated, you will get options to incorporate letters, numerals, and other characters. Some of the familiar terminologies you will encounter when starting include

  • Glyph: Glyph refers to every individual character within a font
  • Baseline: This is the invisible line where all the font characters sit
  • Ascender line: This refers to the invisible line where the ascenders start
  • Descender depth: This refers to the depth of the downward vertical stroke on letters such as p and y
  • Ascender height: This refers to the height of vertical stroke on letters such as h and k
  • Stem: refers to the primary vertical stroke of letters like F and T
  • Bowl: Refers to the closed rounded part of letters such as o, b, and d
  • Bezier curve: This refers to a parametric model that you will use to smooth scalable curves.

Step 5: Refine your character set

During the font creation process, you should also consider how your font will look as a whole when refining them. A few tips to help your refining process include:

  • Combine a series of spacing letters to achieve ideal spacing and kerning
  • Test out several sizes for each character, especially when working with a font application that tends to broaden
  • Print your work regularly during the entire design process. Notably, seeing things in print can help you spot hidden mistakes.

Step 6: Upload to WordPress

Once you have translated your designs into a digital format and refined it to perfection, you will have a custom font that you can upload to WordPress for your website. You can leverage a font plugin to upload your work.


If you are looking to dive deeper with custom font creation and need to create fonts for broader usage, the professionals at CorelDRAW will gladly hold your hand. We provide pro tools for vector illustration, layout, photo editing, typography, and collaboration that will help you embark on a fulfilling design journey.

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