Ideal font for white type on black background

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by nicrose, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2006
    I need to put a white type on a black background. I don't have that much room for the font so it needs to be a narrow font, preferrably bold, but very legible at small sizes, such as 8pt or 6pt.
    does anyone have any suggestions on what font to use? I don't want to have to spend any money buying a font--are there any free fonts that can work? If there are no good free fonts, what relatively cheap font should I use? This is for an ad in a newspaper. It has to look very good and professional.

    Thanks a bunch.
  2. macrumors 6502


    May 15, 2005
    Lincoln UK
    I'd look at Gill Sans - a bit simple but it can look quite effective in print, and you should have it already installed in Word.

    You'll be better off going for a sans font I would have thought, because the serifs on some fonts can blur or become less defined at smaller sizes/poorer print qualities.
  3. macrumors member

    Aug 5, 2006
    Helvetica Bold Condensed. maybe play with the tracking a bit too.
    Gill Sans is kind of a wide font. But yeah a Sans serif for sure.
  4. macrumors 68030


    Apr 14, 2006
    Clemson, SC
    Actually I was always taught that serif fonts were easier for our eyes to read, especially at smaller sizes? The serifs help our brains differentiate letters (that's why books, newspapers, and textbooks use serif fonts as a standard).
  5. macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Yes that is true, where the visual resolution is sufficient to distinguish the serifs. In the case of very tiny type, signage (which when viewed from a distance is tiny and at the limit of legibility) and when there is a background, the serifs become hard to distinguish or are overwhelmed by the background, and their advantage is lost. So a bold Sans font is better in those situations.

    How many books and newspapers do you set in a sans? How many highway signs do you see set in something with a fine serif?

    To the OP: I am really hoping here that this is not proposed to set long blocks of text in white over black? Hopefully it is headline, caption or call-out items only? Dark text on a white background is much easier to read body copy - size for size. You have to go up in weight and/or size to make reversed out text as legible.
  6. macrumors 68020


    Jul 31, 2006
    Same country as Santa Claus
    IMO, sans-serif fonts are easier to read in small sizes. The reason why books and etc uses serif fonts because it's easier to flow from one word to the next.
  7. macrumors G3


    Aug 30, 2003
    With this case, white text in a newspaper, there are simple mechanical issues that throw all the nice theories about readability out the window. They're running thin, porous paper through high-speed presses, smears and bleeding happen. Fonts with thin lines and serifs will tend to get filled in and become illegible. For plain text, newspapers will typically recommend not going under 6 points, and a minimum of 8 or 9 for reverse text. Bump up a couple notches for color.

    They don't all use the same equipment, so it's always a good idea to call up and ask (many papers now put this information on their Web sites if you're too busy or shy to call or something).

    It's also not a bad idea to look at actual examples of other ads in the paper, to get an idea of what works and what doesn't work. You'll notice lots and lots of plain sans (Helvetica and the like) for reverse stuff; it's not just a lack of imagination, it survives the process and can still be read.
  8. macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maine, USA
    I would use either Frutiger or Avenir, both wonderful sans serifs. Gill Sans would not be a good choice because of kerning issues. My two cents.
  9. macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2006
  10. macrumors G5


    Nov 25, 2005
    White type on black background. The printer will hate him anyway, but white serif on black background is a nightmare. Ink will just be bleeding in and wipe out all the detail. Big fat strong Helvetica is probably the least evil font you can find.
  11. macrumors 6502


    Jun 20, 2006
    MacVille, USA
    I would look at Myriad or Trade Gothic Condensed. Here's a screenshot from an article at These guys know their stuff.

  12. macrumors regular

    Nov 9, 2006
    I'm in love with Monaco right now. It's simplistic but still looks kind of stylized.
    Also, you might want to do white on dark gray, or light gray on black. White on black is pretty hard on the eyes, especially with smaller text.
  13. thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2006
    font issue

    Hi,thanks for the suggestions.
    Any body know where to get these fonts for free?


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