Here is a simple test
[size=50]DOES ALL CAPS IN A SMALL SAN SERIF FONT AND IN ITALICS EASY TO READ?[/size]
Or is it a strain on your eye?
Typography is an “art” with a lot of science behind it. Is it legible at small sizes or certain colors. Does it match the “theme” of the over all presentation? Does it “clash”? Does it look like vomit on the page?
Fonts make all the difference in the world.
Some simple “rules” of thumb are
8-12 point roman text for a “paragraph” style. Sans serif is harder to read in large blocks of text (like books or newspapers) but are excellent for short blocks of text that need to “stand out” (like foot notes or side bar comments) ON PAPER. On Computer screens San Serif are actually easier to read at smaller sizes due to screen resolutions and how text is displayed on screen.
The “3 font” rule. This rule can of course be broken but is a loose guideline to follow simply because when you start using more than 3 fonts things become very “busy” and leads to design vomit.
Use BOLD and Italics sparingly. Don’t bold or Italicize a whole wall of text. Instead try a font change. (Three font rule works great here) 1 Font for Headline. 1 For paragraph, 1 for “standing out”. Use Bold /Italics for Emphasis (like headlines, quotes, or emphasis in a phrase) and use them sparingly.
Decide if the final design is for Digital Display (Monitor/Web/TV) or if it is for Paper or “flat display” (banner, sign, book, poster, billboard, etc) and design accordingly.
And decide if it is for a certain “niche” or purpose. (Example is using COURIER for code).
For certain works certain “fonts” are the “norm”. (Example screenwriting, or manuscript submission) versus a final “layout” comp (Indesign layout of a brochure). Each “area” has people who are used to seeing things a certain way. So if you are submitting “code” to a “coder” you would pick COURIER as that is the “norm”. If you don’t know just look at some examples.
Good font usuage not only makes it easy and comfortable for the reader but it also helps grab attention or direct the reader easily (navigation). Look at text books and you will find some that are easy to navigate and easy to find information and some will confuse you, make it appear as if things are poorly written or are hard to follow.
PS: If you ever use “Brush Script” go ahead and shoot yourself now. It is an atrocious font that is hard to read and looks about as appeasing as Boy George shagging with Richard Simmons while both are wearing sequenced satin tye-dyed leotards grinding while “I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt” is playing on a high volume 8 track.
Most “cool” fonts are “decorative” are mainly used for HEADLINES or LOGO design.
(The best “quality” fonts IMHO are Adobe Fonts adobe.com/type/ )
And in all honesty, unless you are a Designer (Web/Graphic) in all reality you will probably never use more than 30 different fonts and you will never use all 30 on one “project” unless you are building a “font Book”.
Some “variations” that are nice (here is a good generic list of common ones en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_typefaces)
GENERIC = Times
GENERIC = Helvetica Arial
Monospace Fonts (Code or “Typewriter” fonts)
GENERIC = Courier
Lucida Console (Many Lucida variations)
Script Fonts or “Hand Written” Fonts (Decorative)
GENERIC = Brush Script - “The Vomit Font” Old English - Chancery - Comic Sans
Note: One really cool thing is to find a place that will design your OWN custom font. Then fill out a card using your own HANDWRITING. (You have to make every letter).
This is one “cool” way to customize your own “look” with your very own handwriting and its “chump change” for cost (I think around $10.00?) where as a professionally designed can cost much more (Example: Adobe® Font Folio® 11 software includes more than 2,300 fonts from the Adobe Type Library and costs $2,599)
So you want your own custom font of your own handwriting for chump change?
So yes. Fonts matter. Just read a book on “Typography” and you may realize how much of an impact fonts make in every aspect of our lives.
And shoot for $10 bucks you can “hand write” your novel using a keyboard. How cool is that?