How many fonts do your emails use?

Your header art may use one or two fonts. Your headline might use another font. Your text might use a different one. And if you have a sidebar, that may use yet another font.

Bad idea. Why?

Too many fonts used together make your email look scattered and disorganized.

If you’ve counted them up and your fonts total more than three, then your fonts have gotten out of hand.

Don’t worry: I have a solution for you. Here’s how to take charge of your runaway fonts, corral them, and make them work for your business.

Three’s a crowd

Most professional designers select one or two fonts and use them consistently throughout any piece they design. There’s a reason for this: it makes our jobs easier!

Here’s an example of too many fonts:

Instead, use different weights of the same font (like regular, bold, and semi-bold), or combinations of just two fonts, and your email will look cohesive:

Choose one font for text, and use it throughout the main content area of your email.

Choose another font for ads, announcements, coupons, and sidebars. Think of it as—your “down to business” font. Using a different font for the “transactional” portions of your email will differentiate these areas, and will help your reader perceive where you’ve switched gears in your content.

Ignore your logo and header art

Your emails may feature your logo at the top, or header artwork. There’s a good chance this art uses a font.

I hereby give you permission to ignore the font in your email header, and not count it among the two fonts I recommend you use. Just focus on getting the fonts in the body of your email under control.

Which fonts should you keep?

It’s tough to choose which fonts to eliminate after you’ve grown used to seeing them. Here’s some criteria you can use to narrow them down.

Readability: Fonts are designed to communicate your information. That sounds too basic to even mention, I know, but sometimes we lose track of that fact when we get caught up in how a font looks.

Remember, the more readable the font, the more your information and concepts will shine through. Highly readable fonts don’t draw attention to themselves, they shine the spotlight on your ideas.

To check readability, type out a few paragraphs using your fonts, then step back and look closely at how easy or difficult it is to read them.

Do some fonts slow you down? Those are the ones to eliminate.

Personality: Every font has a personality, and some personalities are more pronounced than others. Fonts can look contemporary and streamlined, or classic and authoritative.

Think of the fonts you see associated with financial firms or lawyers: they tend to be serif fonts (the ones with the feet), and classic shapes.

On the other hand, the fonts you see associated with high-tech firms or social media companies tend to be sans-serif (no feet), streamlined, and contemporary.

Where does your business fit on this continuum? To figure it out, take my quick brand personality quiz.

Be ruthless

Take the time to corral your runaway fonts if you’re using more than two in your email marketing. The end result will be emails that look professional and streamlined, and do a better job communicating your brand.

Did I leave anything out? Feel free to add your thoughts or questions in the comments!