How to choose a hand drawn font

If you have any design experience you will know exactly what I mean when I say that somedays you wish you didn't. A designer's brain is very hard to turn off - the infinite number of cafes that think Papyrus means 'coffee', that all-CAPS all-centred type on a made-in-Word watch the step sign, the person you meet at a party that says "I can design because I know how to use photoshop" - all these things can drive you mad! Sometimes you just want to sit and have a coffee and not be blinded by the menu's font.

This isn't design snobbery - that's something else - this is simply I've done at least two semesters of typography and I can tell when it's just plain bad. I repeat, this doesn't make you a snob*, it just makes you aware.

One design trend I've become painfully aware of lately is hand drawn type, specifically hand drawn type that looks hand written. It's hung around a lot longer than many other design trends and I'm sure it will be about for a while still, and that's why I need to address the issue of awful handwriting fonts.

I love the handwritten trend, it makes everything unique and it means that designers really have to think. Bad design however comes from laziness and bad type comes from lazy font choices. There are so many of handwriting fonts available that it's so easy for a designer to pick one and think the job is done. But not all handwritten fonts are created equal, nor do they all communicate the same thing. Choosing to use handwritten type is not the same as choosing a handwritten font.

So here, in this post, is my small contribution to combat bad handwritten font choices with a handful of tips on how to choose the right one for you:

1. DIY
The only way to create something truly spectacular is to do it yourself. Sure it's not a quick but my gosh the results will really have an impact. This should be your first choice when creating your design but alas if you can't spend the time then...

2. Spend the money
The worst thing to do is to spend nothing. Everyone has access to those dodgy 1001 fonts and worst of all it's so obvious when you do use one.

3. Choose the personality first
So you want to add a 'personal' touch to your design, fine, just make sure you choose the right personality. Is the design or the brand shouty, happy, sad, nuanced, delicate? Handwritten fonts should be imbued with traits of the overall design and feel like the person writing it (who isn't you btw, it's the client/brand).

4. Try a handset
Handsets are type that are not fonts. huh? They're fonts that you can't install and type with. huh? So each letter is a single shape and to make a word you must copy and paste each letter into your Photoshop or Illustrator file. why? Because it makes you think and good design is always considered design. Placing each letter in place takes time, but you can get the placement of each letter just right.

5. Buy unique fonts for each project
Reuse is ok a few times but it's just lazy if for different clients you're using the same font. Also it's not as fun. You Work For Them has some amazingly unique hand drawn fonts that are super fun to work with.

So that's just a few, and really quite basic design tips for this hot hot trend. Do you like this trend? Do you have any other tips to offer - please leave a comment. AND if you have a favourite handwritten font please tell!


*Next week I have a sort of review of the film Helvetica, you will hear all about true design snobs then.


  1. what is that font you displayed on "you work for them"?

  2. Whats the font you used for "pinterest" and "twitter" imgs on the right column?