What Fonts Should You Use for Custom T-Shirts?

Custom T-Shirts

You want your custom t-shirts to stand out–in a good way! Bad typography can send the wrong message. Something can look scary when you want it to be funny, or goofy when you want a professional look.

But font selection doesn’t have to be difficult! With a few basic points of orientation, you’ll be talking fonts like a pro.

Here are some tips to make your custom t-shirts look (and read) their best.

Some Font Terms for Custom T-shirt Design

When it comes to t-shirt design, the overall design of your text is called “typography.” When you breakdown typography into components you have:

  • Font name (sometimes called the “typeface”) like Times New Roman.
  • Font size, for example, 14 point (pt) font.
  • Font weight, such as bold.
  • Treatment requirements of your font, like italics.

When you put these elements together, you have something like Helvetica, Bold, 14 pt, altogether referred to as the “font.”

In t-shirt design, though, you might also have text that bends, has a worn “vintage” look, or other elements of the typography that might be referred to as a “treatment” to the font.

Another important term for fonts: serif and sans serif.

A “serif” is the little extension at the tops and bottoms of letters in some fonts. For example, Times New Roman has these little tiny hooks on the letters. Those are the serifs. Another common font, Arial, does not, because it is sans (without) serifs.

As a general rule, to remember when choosing t-shirt fonts: traditional typefaces often have serifs, cleaner more modern designs are commonly sans.

Does Font Matter on T-shirts?

So what do fonts have to do with t-shirts? In truth, if your custom shirts have any words at all, the fonts matter.

When it comes to choosing the right font for your t-shirt you want to consider just a few points:

  1. Your brand – are you modern or classic, elegant or edgy? Your font should fit your image.
  2. Legibility – most t-shirts are designed to be read. However, you might choose a design that’s intentionally illegible, like cursive.
  3. Message – beyond just your brand image and legibility, the typography should match your intention, messaging and the mood of your t-shirt.
  4. Trends – other designs have an impact on yours! Lots of fonts have been used over the years, and whether you mean it to or not, your design might line up with some of those trends. It’s best to be intentional in the trends you follow!

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a graphic designer yourself to get great custom t-shirt printing, with the perfect typography for your project. Just being familiar with these concepts can go a long way toward helping you create your perfect design.

Here are some suggestions for t-shirt fonts that really work!

Traditional, Vintage and Scripty

A billboard is designed to be read from a distance. A t-shirt, on the other hand, is an up-close-and-personal billboard. That proximity opens the possibilities for fun fonts, while maintaining enough readability.

Traditional or vintage fonts generally try to mimic the time period, the vibe, you are going for. Here are some examples:

  • Victorian traditional: Give Beardsons a try for a true classic.
  • Vintage college shirt: Think preppy college letterman jacket and you’ve got Collegiate.
  • 80s subway graffiti: Vintage styles come from any era, like this marker-style font that works well for urban streetwear: Network.
  • Stenciled look: Stencils have been around since the earliest days of printing, so a stenciled font like Portago ITC works well for vintage styling.
  • That 70s font: The 1970s popularized t-shirts and there are many styles that fit the era, but a great classic 70s font is Groovy.

Fonts inspired by an era give your brand that vibe.

Adventurous, Whimsical, and Unusual

Some fonts go beyond time, and instead communicate with humor, whimsy, or adventure. Options include spooky fonts, like the dripping look of Wax Museum (looks like blood when done in red) or the horror-film-inspired Slasher Flick.

There are nearly infinite possibilities for a cartoony font, from Looney Tunes to the pop-art-inspired Komikz.

For just plain adventure, Raidland looks like something that would go on your travel mug as easily as your custom t-shirt.

Get Skinny or Squeezed

When printing custom t-shirts you might also have limited space, or be looking for something a little more sleek and modern.

Some favorite modern fonts include:

  • The casual handwritten-looking Caveat,
  • The all-caps, narrow handwritten-looking Amatic,
  • Or the bold, condescended, and modern Steelfish.

Each of the above pairs well with others, or stands alone in your design.

Let Our Design Experts Help

When it comes to custom t-shirt printing, our design experts are translators of style.

We will work with you to understand your vision, your message, and the impression you want to communicate to wearers and viewers of your custom t-shirts. Then we will find the best t-shirt fonts for your brand vision.

Contact us to get started!

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