How to choose typefaces and fonts for oral presentations

Historically, with conventional printing, fonts were expensive. Each font was an actual physical device that the typographer purchased. For any given typeface, most typographers had four basic fonts (regular, bold, italic, bold italic). Today, with computerized printing, the choices are endless, and fonts and typefaces can be easily changed with a simple click. But such easy choices bring with them the temptation to mix and match so much that you end up with a mishmash that distracts the audience so that they miss your message.

Unless specified otherwise by the group sponsoring your presentation, the following conventions are generally accepted. (The same guidelines should follow for handouts, the printed materials you may wish to distribute as part of your message.)

Stay within one family of typefaces, or use one family for the body copy and another for the headings. For example, consider using Helvetica bold for headings, Times New Roman for body copy, and plain Helvetica for captions and labels on charts and graphs.

Use primarily plain text fonts. Avoid ALL CAPS and use italic and bold sparingly.

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