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Typography Expert Explains our Emotional Response to Fonts

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Dominique Dalla has her doctorate in tactile typography and currently works as the digital media course convenor for the Queensland College of Art at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. 

In other words, she's a typography expert. 

People have a strong emotional reaction to fonts. Most people don't think about that very often, but Ms. Dalla has been aware of the emotional relationship between humans and fonts since she was a small child. 

Learning to write left-handed in a right-handed world was stressful for Ms. Dalla. She was keenly aware that her writing was different from that of her peers. In other words, there was never a time when Ms. Dalla was not aware of the differences between fonts (or handwriting). 

In an article for ABC Australia, reporter Damien Larkins asked Ms. Dalla about the tendency for people to have an emotional response to typefaces. She responded with a metaphor:

"Typefaces have personalities - if you're going to go and give a speech in parliament, you probably shouldn't dress as a clown."

There is a time and place for each font. Take the love-to-hate-font Comic Sans, for example. You don't hear anyone complaining about it when it's in a comic book. 

If your friend showed up to a fancy restaurant in denim cut offs, you would have a negative emotional reaction. Similarly, there is an element of appropriateness that goes along with choosing a font. If a font is not appropriate for its context, you won't be happy. 

Have you designed any fonts with a specific context in mind? Contact us to share it! 

1 Comment

  • jatzio avatar
    I do, frnakly I only designs font with some context, for example to honor someone by make his/her handwriting become digitalized. Or simply when you are feeling happy, just make a sketch, scan and make a font that suits your happiness.
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