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Does Font Choice Influence Artistic Interpretation?

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

October 23, 2009

Comments (7)

Woman with an ideaDo you experiment with fonts when you read scripts?

Does changing up the font alter your interpretation?

Perhaps you have a favorite font and even change the font that your scripts are sent in!

Whatever you do, I'd love to hear about it! Share your font preference here at VOX Daily.

Helvetica

You may have heard about a documentary about a font called Helvetica. During the film you are shown how it is used, by whom, and are given an amazing glimpse into its universal use and practical appeal (which is extensive to say the least).

Needless to say, Helvetica is a font that you've likely come in contact with in a voice over script. Perhaps you've been reading text set in nice legible fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, or others.

Fonts Speak Volumes

The font you choose may very well flavor your reads, influencing them in some way, whether you realize it or not.

Fonts are designed to have their own traits and personalities.

It's amazing how a curve, a slant, or a font's weight can affect how you interpret what is being communicated on the page and also therefore shape your scoring of the copy.

The sheer number of fonts available (and their derivatives) is overwhelming! I found a really great resource that goes over the basic characteristics of fonts that may be useful to you if you're trying to find a perfect fit for reading scripts in or simply wish to better understand fonts in general.

Here's a link to a PDF of Maarten Gelderman's "Fonts: A Short Introduction to Font Characteristics."

That being said...

Pen to Paper

Maybe you're on the opposite side of the font camp and prefer to write out shorter scripts by hand to put more of "you" into the read.

Writing the script out could make the read more believable because it is in your own writing and therefore more familiar. The notation has your pen strokes, pauses, punctuation marks, and because you wrote it out, is now physically part of you.

Which Font Do You Use?

Do fonts affect how you read?

Which font do you prefer to read scripts in and do you change the font to help you create a different read?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Bart Coenders

Related Topics: Fonts, Helvetica, interpretation, scripts, Typeface, voice acting, voice overs, words


Comments


    I love this post! I have been doing voice over for 36 years and have ALWAYS felt the font affected my reads. Sometimes I will write them out to make the words part of me ... other times I will change the font style ... For me, the color, shape and origination of the words I am reading has always been critical to my read. Thanks for calling attention to this rather obscure subject.

    Posted by:

      I use a font called Georgia. It's an oldstyle serif font that I find very legible and visually interesting.

      Posted by:

        Stephanie,

        Good article! As a longtime print ad guy/graphic artist...coupled with broadcast and narration work...I am VERY familiar with fonts and their effects ON THE EYES. Never thought about it for narration simply because I have only ONE criteria for a script:
        It HAS to be in an easy-to-read font. If not, it gets changed into one. And there are many. Helvetica is only the "grandaddy" of what are called "sans-serif" fonts, meaning that the letters have no little "tails" such as on Times-Roman or Courier.

        But there are many imitators of Helvetica. Eurostile, Universe, Tahoma, Arial, Futura, Franklin come to mind.

        Microsoft even makes one called, oddly enough, "Sans Serif".
        Being a longtime radio newscaster, I'm most comfortable reading scripts in "ALL-CAPS" format; just habit and makes for easier reading.

        For emphasis and styling I use BOLD, Underlining, and highlighters. Sometime circling words that are going to create problems with my read...I rehearse those before beginning. However, that long career as a newscaster (and the days of "rip & reading" wires) gives me the solid background for excellent "cold readings". Always happy to share.

        Jay Lloyd
        Benicia, CA

        Posted by:
        • Jay Lloyd
        • October 24, 2009 11:24 PM

          Good article. I always use Arial 14pt for the benefit of my aging eyes.

          I predate the computer age, so "In a time when..." they handed you a hand-typed script, I was grateful for the IBM changeable spinwriter balls. ;)

          Posted by:
          • steve hammill
          • October 24, 2009 11:27 PM

            Century Gothic -- clean, easy to read -- is my fave. I like comic sans as well, but Century Gothic does the business! :D

            Posted by:

              Times Roman - or something with serif - upper lower case - is the easiest to read.

              The idea of changing the font to something frilly or bold or whatever to help your read really doesn't make sense to me. Unless I am the one doing the changing, I guess. It's like having a writer underline or bold or italicize certain words because they hear it that way in their head.

              For example, the word "you" is frequently underlined by scriptwriters - when it is really NOT the word that needs to be stressed. (Intentional switch to CAPS to make a point). But since they have underlined it on your script, you have to un-underline it in your mind.

              Give me a nice clean serif font with no special markups. I'll do any marking on my own (and with the director if working with one) as I understand what the script is about.

              Posted by:

                Different things help different people. I find that what helps me is not so much the font that is used, but accent marks and personal markings that wouldn't make any sense to anyone but me. Markings and notes are invaluable to me on a script. Fonts may work for some people and I can see how they do, creating a psychological atmosphere in order to help the artist with their delivery. Perhaps will try messing with some fonts in the future, and see what sort of difference they make. Intriguing!

                Posted by:

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