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Practical Help in Exhibit Design

3. Fonts

Some fonts are easier than others to read, some are good for titles but used in an entire paragraph they become difficult to read (see examples).

Use one or two fonts for your exhibit. One for titles and one for text. Or if you can find the perfect font, maybe you can use an all caps italic for the title and the regular font for the text. Do not overuse font types - it is too messy - keep it simple!

The best way to select a font is to print the ones you like and then ask someone older which ones are easier to read. Young eyes can read fonts more easily than older eyes. An exhibit should be printed in at least an 18 point font size. Some captions could be at 16 point but try to not go smaller than that. Remember that differnent fonts print out in different sizes - so be sure to check the size once printed.

Font size for text. You can try making the font size a bit larger on the most important caption to emphasize your point. Or if space is an issue figure out how big your piece of paper can be while still getting everything else on the board, and then enlarge your font to the biggest it can be and still fit on that size piece of paper.

Font size for title. For the title at the top of your exhibit you want to make the font as large as possible and not exceed two lines. Be creative, if your exhibit is about trees or forests, make the title out of little sticks glued to a tan background. If your exhibit is about toys, make your title out of Lego's or marbles and glue them on a board. Whatever you choose, make sure it is readable - messy exhibits make it harder for your audience to follow your message.

If you want a very large font but don't have access to a large format printer it can still be done. You can make a stencil out of any font. We did this for the exhibit title you see below:

Large title
The word "Hollywood" in the photo is made out of gatorfome painted white. Print out big letters, cut them out with scissors, trace them on the gator, cut them out of the gator with a rotozip saw and then paint them white.

For the word "Cowboys" print out the letters on paper. Then cut the center of the letter out with an exacto knife,or if your letters are plain and thick, you might be able to use a pair of scissors. Cut out anything that's black. Remember to use the part of the paper that's left after cutting out the black part. Throw the black parts away. Then tape the pieces of paper with the letter-shaped holes to the wall and painted over them like a stencil. Use a stencil brush and stencil paint and just dab it on until you have enough.

You could also make letters from interesting papers.
paper text example grass text example paper text example
Here's how to do it:
1. Find a paper you like(or you can use fabric).
2. Make your letters as high as you want them to be.
3. Cut them out with scissors.
4.Trace around each letter on the back of the wrapping paper or whatever you are using.
5. Cut that letter out with scissors and voila! a word made from cool paper. Make sure that your cutout letters contrast enough with the background you are attaching them to. See illustrated step by step instructions here.

Where do I find fonts?
I got many of the fonts off the internet. For free. When I was looking for a Dr. Seuss font, I went to google and typed in "Dr. Seusss font free" and I found the "Grinched" font and one other called "Dr. Seuss." Do a search on "free fonts" and you will get many websites to choose from. You might want to narrow it down by adding a word like the "Dr. Seuss" search I did. Try a couple of different searches using similar words, you'll get different results. If you know the name of the font you want, do a search for the name with the word "free" and see what you get. Like "Mona Lisa font free".

There are many fonts to choose from, make sure your color, design and font are all related and support the theme of your exhibit. Take a look at some of these fonts and think about what topics they might go with:

 

Lil' Abner
"Burnstown Dam" a western font good for a title
Dr. Seuss
This font is called "Grinched"
Calvin and Hobbes
This font is called "Calvin and Hobbes". It's good for a title in a child-related exhibit
bones
This is called "Fossil." It might be good for a dinosaur exhibit
circus
A title font called "Circus"
font, diner
Title font called "Terylene Top."
Fiesta
A funky title called "Chorizo"
Alladin
A title called "Aladdin"
Medieval
This is "Fiorne" It looked to me like a title font for something from the Middle Ages. So does this one called "Oxford":
medieval
Frasier
The font is called "Fox Trot" and it is very readable font..
flaming
Those are supposed to be little flames coming from the top of the letters. It's called "FlamingDCHeavy"
funny
This is a pretty common font called "Comic Sans". It also works well for kid kind of stuff. Another kid-handwriting font is "lemonade"
Garamond
"Garamond" is great for paragraph text and it's pretty common.
Garamond Italics
I'm not sure I'd do a whole page in it, but for a sentence or two it would be great.
garamond italic caps
I used this font for the titles on the website for the American Revolution exhibit. I just love those "A's".
Iowa
This font is called "Collegiate" and it makes a good title for something about schools.
Gilligan's Island
It's called "3Hour Tour"
handwriting
This is called "Lucida Handwriting".
nevillescript font
This is called "Neville Script."


hippy
A good titling font for a 1960s/70s exhibit. It's called "Hippy Display Caps"
Old West
This one is called "Mesquite Std."
notes
Music notes might come in handy. This is a webdings font called "Composer"
old fashioned fancy
This font is called "Morocco"
Fancy Schmancy
This is called "ShelleyVolante"

This is a casual font called "Tempus Sans"
mountains
This is called "SnowtopCaps"
Toolshop
"ToolShopCaps"
Walt Disney
The font made to look like a famous signature. It's called "Walt Disney Script 4.1"
jurassic
It's called "Jurassic"
lego
It's called "Legothick"

It's called "Mona Lisa," clean and sophisticated.
money
It's called "Currency"

 

 

1. How to Relate the Topic to the Design of the Exhibit
2. Interesting Exhibit Design
3. Fonts and Type Faces,
4. How Do I Do That? (a virtual hands-on demonstration)
5. Sources

Back to our exhibit design page

 



Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
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210 Parkside Drive
West Branch, IA 52358
319-643-5301