Choosing an Appropriate Newsletter Font

Choosing the best font for newsletter

Newsletter fonts, their color, size and spacing play a big role in how readers perceive that newsletter. In addition, although email marketing came a long way, browsers and email clients still can not display many of the fonts correctly. 

In this article, we’ll talk about what the best newsletters fonts are, how they fit in an email, and why simple is still better than intricate even with the choice of hundreds of options.

How a typeface can determine the success of your marketing campaign

The font, its size, and the spacing between lines and letters all matter when it comes to how easy and convenient a piece of content is to read.

According to the study run by Benjamin Berman (it included a quiz, check it out) published in the New York Times in 2012, people’s trust in a statement would vary depending on which font was used to write it. So a fitting typography can make your newsletters seem more credible, set the right tone, create connection and build brand recognition. This opens an incredible opportunity to raise conversion rates, or on the contrary, drop them if the design is not done well.

Web-safe fonts vs web fonts in emails

When your readers open your email on their computers or mobile devices, their web browsers and email clients are “reading” that email’s code “telling” them which font to display. If a font isn’t available on a particular device, it gets substituted with a default font pre-installed on the device’s operating system. 

Such a change can make your email design look different than you intended it to.

The issue with unavailable fonts is more likely to happen to users who use old hardware or have slower internet connection. The surefire way to avoid it is to use web-safe fonts.

Web-safe fonts

A web-safe font is one that is pre-installed on most computers along with the operating system. There are no fonts that go with absolutely every system — but some came pretty close.

Best web-safe fonts that work (almost) everywhere:

  • Arial
  • Verdana
  • Tahoma
  • Trebuchet MS 
  • Times New Roman
  • Georgia
  • Garamond 
  • Courier New
  • Brush Script MT 

When choosing a font for an email, you need to make sure that it looks the same across all kinds of devices, whether it is a mobile, tablet, or desktop. Web-safe fonts are the best choice since most devices would have them installed, and they will display in the email the way you designed. 

Web fonts

Web fonts aren’t pre-installed, they are instead downloaded when the browser or email client “sees” such a font and pulls it in from the server. A web font needs to be downloaded only once. Then, it’ll display when needed unless a user deletes it from the system manually.

The choice of web fonts is larger, but, according to Litmus, they work in a few email clients only — Apple Mail, Outlook for Mac, and iOS. In others, including Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook Office 365, and so on, they won’t display and instead, a default web-safe font would appear. To account for this, make sure to include suitable web-safe fallback fonts in the email setting if you choose to use a web font.

Different types of fonts for newsletters

Although web-safe fonts are always a good and safe choice, it is important to consider brand style and email design as well. Let’s take a look at what typefaces exist at all and where web-safe fonts fit.

Serif fonts

In typography, serifs refer to small strokes at the end of vertical or horizontal lines of the letters. They may be big and obvious or small and barely noticeable.

Times New Roman font

One of the most common fonts, Times New Roman, is a serif font. Some other popular typefaces of this category are Garamond, Libre Baskerville, Courier, and Didot.   

Sans serif fonts

Typefaces without strokes at the end of their letterforms are called sans serif. Modern and minimalistic, they are very legible and are the best fonts for digital use.

Arial font

Some of the popular sans serif fonts are Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Franklin Gothic. 

Script fonts

The typefaces of the script category are decorative and artistic, they imitate the handwriting with pen, brush or marker. These fonts are beautiful but not a good choice as a main font since they can be hard to read. However, they can make great fonts for a newsletter’s headline and subheadings, provided they fit the brand’s style.

The examples of script fonts are Liesel, Amarone, and Bayamo.

Liesel by Monotype
Liesel by Monotype. Source: MyFonts

Display fonts

Display fonts is not a separate category, rather, it refers to fonts that are designed for short-form and often large-format usage, e.g. on billboards, posters, logotypes, book covers, headlines of printed magazines. They include typefaces from the serif, sans serif and script styles and can also be used as email fonts. They often have more eccentric and variable designs.

There are many typefaces created purely as display fonts, and there are also display versions of serif and other types.

Walbaum is an example of a purely display font: 

Walbaum by Monotype
Walbaum by Monotype. Source: MyFonts

How to choose the best font for a newsletter

Consider these guidelines when working on your next newsletter. 

Choose brand and industry appropriate fonts

Each brand has its own tone of voice, and in every industry, there are typically expectations about how companies should present themselves. Fonts that work for a fashion industry won’t suit the medical industry, while formal and corporate-looking typefaces will look out of place in emails from a brand selling products for kids.  

When choosing fonts, consider the industry, your brand’s style and voice, and keep it consistent with how your brand is presented in email campaigns and other marketing materials.

A newsletter by Rocket Lawyer
A newsletter by Rocket Lawyer, a service that provides online legal services, uses a combination of Google Fonts PT Serif, Open Sans and Montserrat to convey the formality and reliability of their business. Source: Really Good Emails
A newsletter by Rifle Paper Co.
Rifle Paper Co., a stationery company, uses a combination of Average Mono, Rifle Open Narrow, Futura and other font families to express the brand’s artistic characteristics. Source: Really Good Emails

Select fonts that are easy to read and are clearly legible at small size

The type of font and its size are important factors that impact its readability. In general, sans serif fonts are more suited for the web because they are easier to read even when they are small size.  

Why is this important? Often, the email font size can be 11-12 px, which is quite small on the desktop and hard to read on mobile. In addition, the subscribers will open the email on a variety of devices with different screen sizes and email clients. Decorative fonts might not be legible at this size and the readers might decide to just abandon the newsletter altogether. 

So you may want to use the minimum font size of at least 16 px to make sure it is easy to read on any device. Ideally, choose a font that is clear even at 11 px, ensure the font-weight is decent and try to get a 1.15 line spacing.  

In the example below, Courier uses 16 px font size in their newsletter to make sure it is easy to read at desktop and mobile alike:

Email newsletter using font size 16 px
Email newsletter using font size 16 px on mobile
It looks great on mobile too

Try customized fonts

You might want to consider customizing an existing font — Open/Libre Fonts allow you to legally modify them and use the results commercially. This option is simpler and cheaper than creating a font from scratch. If done well, a brand gets a unique and distinct typeface that can become a part of its personality.  

It can be costly to hire a designer, but if there is already a customized font that your brand owns, consider using it in the newsletter as a headline or a banner. Also, since headlines usually use bigger font size than newsletter body text, there won’t be issues with readability in web browsers.

TCCC Unity, Coca-Cola’s custom font typeface
TCCC Unity, Coca-Cola’s custom font typeface, was based on a mix of fonts including Gotham, Google fonts and Proxima Nova. The font was revealed in 2018 and created by the collaboration of Coca-Cola’s global design team, and the maestro behind The Face and Fuse magazines Neville Brody’ team, Brody Associates. It needed to be “ownable and recognizable, highly scalable, from text on a mobile screen to display size on a hoarding, and operate across all necessary platforms, from digital to mobile and from print to product and environment”. Source: Digital Uncovered

A/B test your newsletters

A/B split testing is the fastest way to eliminate guesswork and figure out what your audience likes. Then, you can optimize your email newsletters accordingly, and get a boost in engagement, click-through rate, and conversion rate. 

Email A/B testing, also known as email split testing, is just a way to compare and evaluate two things to each other. It is simple in principle: from your whole list of subscribers, you pick a group of people, split it into two and send each a different version of an email. The email which receives the most opens and clicks (aka “the winning version”) will be sent out to the rest of your subscribers.

Some of the things you may want to A/B test include:

  • Choice of fonts for email body and headers
  • Number of fonts used
  • Fonts and their sizes
  • Spacing
  • Color
  • Plain text vs more sophisticated formatting
Ryan Deiss’s email with differing formatting and font sizes
Ryan Deiss’s email uses different formatting and font size to bring attention to important thoughts
Jacob McMillan’s email with plain text
Jacob McMillan’s email uses plain text with paragraphs as the only formatting

Notice how presence or absence of formatting changes the perception of an email. Jacob McMillan’s email looks slick and easy to read through, there is nothing that grabs the eye aside from the link in the end. Ryan Deiss’ catches the eye (and attention) in quite a few places due to his use of bold, italic and CAPS.

Best newsletter fonts for different text elements

Headlines & subheadings

Headlines, titles and subheaders are short and bigger in size than the rest of the email, so they work well with decorative typefaces. Well-chosen display fonts can attract attention and convey a statement, while also looking good aesthetically.

The following fonts might be a good choice for a newsletter’s headline.

Zag by Fontfabric
Zag™ by Fontfabric
Mundo Sans by Monotype
Mundo Sans™ by Monotype
Kane by Device
Kane by Device
Olio by Little Fonts
Olio by Little Fonts
Hello Rogest by Runsell Type
Hello Rogest by Runsell Type
Trajana Sans by Tipo Pèpel
Trajana Sans by Tipo Pèpel

Teaser text

Teaser text, also called preheader text, can be used to compliment the headline and give the reader a deeper glimpse of what is inside the email. Its role is to increase readers’ interest and provoke them to read on. The font for this part should be smaller and lighter than the headline, but still bigger than the body text’s.

Preheader in the Puzz’ emai
Preheader in the Puzz’ email makes it obvious what the email will talk about next. Source: Really Good Emails

Body copy

When it comes to email body text, the most important thing is to ensure it is easy to read.

Once again, consider sticking to the web-safe fonts for this part: 

  • Arial
  • Verdana
  • Tahoma
  • Trebuchet MS 
  • Times New Roman
  • Georgia
  • Garamond 
  • Courier New
  • Brush Script MT 

Cutlines

Cutlines are photo captions below an image that describe what that image is about, and they offer a great opportunity to communicate key ideas. Consider making them the same size as email body text or bigger, using bold or italic, or use a font that differs from the body copy.  

Cutline in Chobani’s email newsletter
Chobani, an American company that sells Greek-style yogurt, used the cutline to demonstrate the ways you can eat their yogurt. They’ve also highlighted it by using a different color and font than in the email body text

Pull quotes and blockquotes

A pull quote is a typographical technique where a piece of text from the article is reprinted in the same article or page, but with a different formatting. Print magazines and newspapers love to use it to add to visual appeal and catch the eye of the reader. 

Blockquote (or block quotations) is also published as a separate paragraph or a block. Unlike a pull quote, it refers to some external citation that was not mentioned in the article. Block quotes are usually placed within the reader’s flow — like in the example below.

Blockquotes in Everlane’s email
Everlane uses font size and position of the blockquotes to grab attention. Source: Really Good Emails
A pull quote in Sensey’s email
Sensey uses a pull quote to start the email and set the tone of the narrative. Source: Really Good Emails

Pull quote and block quote techniques can be used to publish testimonials or highlight key ideas. 

Since the point of the pull quote is to grab attention, the font for this part of an email needs to at least be bigger than the body’s text. It can use the same typeface as the email body text, but in italic or bold or in a different color.

In the example above, Sensey uses the font Roboto for headlines and email’s body text.

Sensey brand used Roboto as their main font for headlines and newsletter’s body text
Sensey brand used Roboto as their main font for headlines and newsletter’s body text

However, the pull quote is not a text — it is written straight on the image. This decision of Sensey’s team has its own benefits: they could use whatever font they wanted and could be sure that it looks the same on any device. At the same time, if the image does not display (due to slow internet connection or images being switched off) the email still can be read and understood without any issues.

Pull quote written on the image, Sensey’s newsletter
Sensey’s team put the pull quote directly on to the image. Source: Really Good Emails

Conclusion

Font selection plays a critical role in how the newsletter is perceived and as a result in the success of the marketing campaign. When choosing fonts, consider the following:

  • Email clients can display the basic web safe fonts correctly, while the other typefaces will show up in some but won’t appear in others. Choosing a compatible font is very important to make sure all subscribers can read the email. 
  • Make sure to use font size that can be easily read even when small. Different email clients will display the text differently and it may be both bigger and smaller than you expected. You also may want to consider setting font size at at least 16 px. This is considered a good practice for a website font size, and could help as reference for an email.
  • The headline, teaser text, images with cutlines and pull quotes along with the body text form a visually appealing email. There is a big choice of fonts outside of web-safe fonts — display fonts like Hello Rogest, script fonts like Liesel, and others. Consider what fonts and font sizes will work best for each of these elements and whether it’s worth it using not a web-safe font. 
  • A/B testing fonts and other newsletter elements can help you find options with better engagement, click-through rates, conversion rates and ROI. If you feel like your KPIs are too low, A/B might help with the solution.

What fonts do you use in your newsletters? How do you choose them?

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