In the "look at me" world of advertising, the noisiest wheel on the block doesn't necessarily get the grease, and in the case of typography, the choice of font can backfire if it's either illegible or ambiguous. Choosing the best font requires that you get inside both the medium of expression and the underlying intent of the ad to capture the heart of what you wish to convey.
Marketing consultant Peter Geisheker says serif fonts such as Times and Garamond are best for print advertising in newspapers and magazines, because their "feet" make them easier to read in print than sans serif fonts such as Arial. Serif fonts should be de rigueur in the body of the ad, he says. For marketing literature such as brochures and fliers, commercial printer PS Print advises taking risks and experimenting with a broad range of fonts, the most high-impact ones being Papyrus and Bradley Hand ITC for a lighthearted touch, or Jokerman and Curlz MT for a wild-and-wacky impression.
Online, several other factors intervene in the effectiveness of a particular font. Not all computers can render a non-standard font, and may produce unattractive results on different devices. To make sure your ad can be read by a wider swath of viewers, choose widely available fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman and Georgia, being mindful that font size can also affect the reading experience. For banner ads, which must be both succinct and catchy, marketing blog SnackTools says the best fonts are easy-to-read Arial; Impact, which is bold and narrow; and festive Ballon.
Choosing a font for your ad isn't just about whether it appears online or in print, but the function the font is intended to serve in the ad. In a headline or title, where catching the viewer's attention is the primary objective, graphic design website Creative Bloq recommends conspicuous headline-worthy fonts such as elegant Zebrazil or the beveled font March. On the other hand, in the body of an ad, where you want the text to be legible and comprehensible, err on the side of standard fonts for the medium you are using.
An ad wouldn't be an ad without a sense of flair and some experimentation. As long as any unusual fonts are restricted to select areas, such as titles, and not areas of the ad where you need the audience to be able to unequivocally read the verbiage, stylish fonts add another dimension to your ad, reinforcing your message. "Best" fonts in this case depend on your advertising intent, according to TopDesignMag.com: Ambassador Plus is a font best suited for advertising conveying an elegant luxury feel; Chevin is a contemporary font whose restrained lettering is best for signage.