• I want to thank all the members that have upgraded your accounts. I truly appreciate your support of the site monetarily. Supporting the site keeps this site up and running as a lot of work daily goes on behind the scenes. Click to Support Signs101 ...

OK, what fonts are a must have

Timothy Davis

New Member
and which ones should I never use?

We are going to try and put together a list of fonts to use tonight and would like to have some feedback on what works and what doesn't.

If there is a Font that works but only at certain times that would also be helpfull.

We want to do this right, we do good work but need to learn more on the lay-out side of things.

What works and what does not.


It's better to have two hands than one glove.
Timothy Davis said:
and which ones should I never use?

We are going to try and put together a list of fonts to use tonight and would like to have some feedback on what works and what doesn't.

If there is a Font that works but only at certain times that would also be helpfull.

We want to do this right, we do good work but need to learn more on the lay-out side of things.

What works and what does not.

Wrong question. You should ask 'How do I become sufficiently adept that I'll know the answer to that question?" instead.

Every one who's worth the powder to blow them across the street has a defiinitive style and uses typefaces that complement that style. Not vice versa. And not a whole hell of a lot of faces either. A journeyman signwriter needs command of only a handful of alphabets and does variations on those ad infinitum. In dealing with typefaces, more is not necessarily better.

What faces? The differ with the individual. The better you get at it the more faces you'll be competent to use and the less you actually will use.


Just Me
As much as it pains me to say it, bob has a good point. You need to be able to look at a job and have an idea of what style of font would be most suited. THere really isn't a laundry list of fonts that are preferred - it really depends on the application. I have hundreds of fonts (I collect them like other people collect trading cards) but probably only use a handful on a regular basis.

A couple that scream "amateur" right off the bat are comic sans and brush script, but having said that there are jobs I have used them on because they were suited to the job... as you get a handle on your design skills you will learn what style of font would look best.

Personal opinion - I love the fonts Steve C. has put together (signfonts.com) and probably use them way more than I should - but they are generally the first set of fonts I look at for any particular job.


New Member
Helvetica, Impact and Arial Black.


Yeah man, it's all up to you. There are tens of thousands of fonts out there, and you could get by with under a hundred for the rest of your life. I have around 22,000 myself, and on a day to day basis, only use about 10 of them. It's all personal flavor man. All personal flavor...


New Member
Back in the day when signmakers were signpainters, a journeyman craftsman needed only: A good Roman (serif style) a good casual, a good block, and a darn good script. These are the four major font types. Of course there are infinite variations on these, as any sign guy will tell you. Not to mention the tons of novelty and decorative fonts.

Today, with the abundance of computer fonts available to you, you still need to select on the basis of the subject matter, feel and flavor of the sign's content.

A frilly, lacy, delicate script will not help sell manly stuff like bulldozers, nor will Impact style sell ladies lingerie.

Choose your fonts wisely. And by all means, look at magazine ads, package design, etc. You'll be able to "pick the brains" of highly paid (?) designers who spend a lot of time on this very ideal.

Sign One

New Member
do some surfing-

There are great fonts out there for free, if I were to compile my favorite list of fonts it would go on quite a while. search for free fonts- there is dafont font garden 101freefonts you will know when one is going to work on a sign buy how legible it is, give it the old squint test. consider buying some fonts too- signfonts.com and the letterhead site are great, look at what letterheads has to offer and you will get a feel for the font styles that work too.


New Member

I agree there are tons of cool free fonts! More great fonts are DNA fonts. Dave gave me some when I was once a lettervillian. They are great. You might want to check them out.
As far as what works for you and what doesn't....that you will figure out quick enough. I have always liked antique olive nord.....floran....americana....copperplate...just to name a few. Each day I have different ones that I favor.

Steve C.

New Member
If you have a good design program like Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator you will receive an abundance of really good fonts. The everyday sign making workhorse fonts for me are the Futuras and Compacta fonts as well as the Swiss family. You will want to stock up on some nice script fonts, which seam to be scarce in these font lists for the most part. We (signfonts.com) have a nice script package to start at a very reasonable price. SignDNA also has some great fonts from such sign artist as Bob Behounek and Mike Stevens. Letterhead Fonts Stanford Script, used in the Signs101 logo is probably the best contemporary script available, in my opinion. To create you own designs and layouts you won't need a lot. Where the need to maintain a large font library comes in is when you are dealing with other people’s designs.


New Member
The easy too weed fonts only.
Believe me, if you stick to the signage with vinyl:thumb:, the ones that have all the cute (little) thing are a biiii to weed, and it seems the only people that care about the font want them small....

Bobby H

Arial Sucks.
The absolute greatest, most phiggidy phat of "must have" righteous fonts are listed in the GIF attachment to my post. You know you just wanna have 'em.


  • MustHaveFontsThingie.gif
    30.1 KB · Views: 156

Steve C.

New Member
OK, Please forgive me for tooting my own horn. Raniece brought up easy to weed fonts. I have been told by many that our signfonts are among the easiest to weed because of the slightly rounded inside corners. People especially like the A&S Marquee fonts and A&S Graceland Script for weedability. Sorry, I'll shut up now.:Sleeping:

Fred Weiss

Merchant Member
Typography is too important and broad a topic to break down to a simple favorites list. Getting really involved with type and learning as much about it and its use as you can will help you to separate yourself from your competition and improve your business.

Start by exploring what a leader like Adobe has on their website HERE.

Next start looking (if you haven't already) at type in use. What do you like about this sample? What do you not like about that one?

At the core of type use, understand that type falls into two primary categories of use: Headline and paragraph. Some styles are very easy to look at when there is a lot of it and some should be use sparingly.

For paragraph styles I prefer to use a large family so I have lots of options as to weight, italics, small caps, etc. I also like to use styles that I know my nearby competitors haven't adopted. For me those are Adobe's Utopia font family for a serif style and the Frutiger font family for a sans serif style. I also use a lot of Futura and Serpentine Sans which crossover nicely for either paragraph or headline use. In serif I draw on the Garamond and Palatino families when I need a change from Utopia.

For headline text I use nothing but Old English, all caps at 50% of normal width and arched. (just kidding)

Seriously though, I love SignFonts Snapper Script and have had to force myself not to use it for a while because I was using it too much. House Industries Signpainter Script is definitely worth adding to your library.

But first determine what you want to do with the type and what kind of feeling any given headline font will communicate. Avoid gimmicks, condensing, expanding and, in general, monkeying around with well designed type. Let the good design that has already been put forth work for you.

Overused and common fonts to be avoided:

Brush Script
Comic Sans
Times Family
Arial Family
Brody Script
Dom Casual
Avant Garde


New Member
Nice going Fred, I think you gave a very nice over view of fonts and use. Like Fred said, look at fonts used and decide if they work or don't work and why. Look at movie titles, magazine ads, products and you'll find some of the best use of fonts out there.


New Member
I like some of the foundries that were mentioned like signfonts, LHF fonts, and signdna.

There are a few more that I thought were worth mentioning, like Font Bureau has a lot of nice basic/standard fonts, Blambot fonts and Comicraft fonts have some cool comic book style fonts, FontMesa fonts and Wiescher fonts have some really nice decorative fonts. You should be able to find these and more at myfonts.com