Email-safe fonts: How to stay compatible and on-brand

email-safe fonts, web fonts, and a list of web fonts 2019

Most people are inundated with emails each day. Because of this, you want your emails to stand out amongst the hundreds of others your subscribers receive. You might be tempted to get creative, not only with your copy, but also with your fonts. But it’s important to use email-safe fonts to ensure your message is delivered and not marked as spam. So, what can you do?

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can remain on-brand with virtually no broken experiences. Read on to learn about email-safe fonts and how to choose the right ones for your business.

What are email-safe fonts?

Email-safe fonts are the fonts most likely to be received by all email providers. By using these fonts, you ensure your subscribers can read your emails on virtually any device.

Here is a list of email-safe fonts, according to Adestra:

  • Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif

  • ‘Arial Black’, Gadget, sans-serif

  • ‘Bookman Old Style’, serif

  • ‘Comic Sans MS’, cursive

  • Courier, monospace

  • ‘Courier New’, Courier, monospace

  • Garamond, serif

  • Georgia, serif

  • Impact, Charcoal, sans-serif

  • ‘Lucida Console’, Monaco, monospace

  • ‘Lucida Sans Unicode’, ‘Lucida Grande’, sans-serif

  • ‘MS sans-serif’, Geneva, sans-serif;

  • font-family: ‘MS Serif’, ‘New York’, sans-serif;

  • ‘Palatino Linotype’, ‘Book Antiqua’, Palatino, serif;

  • Symbol, sans-serif

  • Tahoma, Geneva, sans-serif

  • ‘Times New Roman’, Times, serif

  • ‘Trebuchet MS’, Helvetica, sans-serif

  • Verdana, Geneva, sans-serif

  • Webdings, sans-serif

  • Wingdings, ‘Zapf Dingbats’, sans-serif

What to consider when choosing a font

Now that you know about email-safe fonts, you’re all done.

Just kidding.

As you may have guessed, there’s a lot more to choosing fonts than simply picking one that all email providers will accept. But that’s crazy, right? Why not just choose one and use it for all email copy? Your text just needs to work.

But in actuality, that’s not all an email font needs to do. When picking fonts for your emails, it’s important to take a holistic approach. Fonts are directly related to design, and therefore, your company’s overall look and feel.

In the same way imaging represents your brand, fonts are a visual cue to your readers. While a reader may not notice a “good” font, they’re likely to notice one that doesn’t work well within your email.

In fact, there are actually a number of things to consider when choosing that perfect text. Since fonts are a visual key for your messaging, readers will subconsciously use them to gauge your brand and what it has to offer.

  • Consider your branding: serif vs sans-serif

  • Consider your readers

  • Consider legibility

Many marketers stress over the small details of an email. Is the copy correct? Do the links work? Is the campaign performing as well as it should? However, as any designer can tell you, marketers should also consider the look and feel of their font.

Your branding: Serif vs sans-serif

Depending on the look and feel of your brand and messaging, your font could vary quite a bit. If your brand is known for sending serious or newsworthy messaging, you might consider a serif font.

Serif fonts

Serif fonts are typically used for newspapers and long-form content, such as novels or magazines. Notice how The New York Times continues to utilize a serif font, even in their emails. This “serious” font provides their digital messaging with the same newsworthy weight as their print publications.

fonts in email

Source: Really Good Emails

Sans-serif fonts

On the other hand, if your brand is more youthful or upbeat, a serif font could look a little stuffy. In these cases, a sans-serif font may be best. Serif is more popular among online publications, and it has a clean aesthetic.

For instance, the email below announces Venmo’s integration with Grubhub. These are two service-based brands that target a more youthful audience. Because of this, sans-serif is a more appropriate style. And while this is an announcement, it’s far from newsworthy, making sans-serif more ideal.  

email-safe fonts

Source: Really Good Emails

Combining serif and sans-serif fonts

While serif and sans-serif are opposing styles, you may consider pairing them for contrast. This can be a bold move for the overall design of your email. What’s more, it can actually be a visually pleasing way to suggest where readers should look.

In the image below, you can see how Starbucks does just that. For their official announcement, they utilize the serif style. This stylistic choice tells readers to pay attention to the Starbucks news, because it could be important.

However, underneath the announcement, they provide scannable details in an easy-to-read, sans-serif font. Readers can quickly see the email update, then check out details if the announcement is applicable to them.

email fonts and email design

Source: Really Good Emails

Learn more about email design by reading our 2019 design trends.

Your readers

We’ve talked in depth about segmenting your emails for different reader demographics, but when it comes to subscribers, it’s also important to consider design. Which fonts will work best for them? Obviously, email-safe fonts are ideal for deliverability, but what fonts are most legible for your content? Is there a specific age group you need to consider?

As we mentioned above, youthful audiences may be more responsive to sans-serif fonts. If you have a much older audience, consider fonts that will be clear and easy to read.

Finally, will your readers appreciate the font you choose? Comic Sans, for instance, is a font with its own meme following. If your copy’s going to be taken seriously, you don’t want to choose text that is (literally) a joke. Comic Sans may not be appreciated by designers or anyone else who’s familiar with the meme.

Legibility

We briefly discussed legibility above. Regarding legibility, it’s important to consider kerning, or the spacing between individual letters.

Karl Kangur notes Helvetica as an example. Despite being a bold choice for headlines, the kerning makes it difficult to read in a content format.

Because of this, it’s important to choose legible, email-safe fonts for your content copy. Then, in places where you want to draw attention (such as a headline or CTA), you might use a more striking font. Just be sure each word is easy to read on virtually any device.

How to cheat the font game

But what if you’re set on a font that seems a little risky to include in email? Do you have to sacrifice delivery capability for style?

If you want to cheat and avoid using an email-safe font, consider using design to your advantage. Designing words directly into your images is a clever way to incorporate fonts you couldn’t normally use.

But don’t forget to include any pertinent information in your copy (in an email-safe font). This will ensure readers can see your message, even if the images don’t render correctly.

Notice how Jeni’s utilizes this method below. While it appears to use a variety of fonts at first glance, the actual fonts used are quite simple. However, the design uses hand-lettering to provide an extra visual appeal.

The hand-lettering also provides more details about each ice cream. In case readers can’t see the images, however, the message is clear: There are now two new ice cream flavors available for sale.  

email design and branding

Source: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Wrap up

Fonts are an extension of your email design. Even small choices, like whether to use serif or sans-serif fonts, can affect the overall look and feel of your messaging and your brand as a whole.

While it’s always important to use email-safe fonts, you should also consider your branding, your audience, and the legibility of your final email.

If you want your emails to pop, consider using design to your advantage. For instance, you might combine serif and sans-serif fonts to guide your readers. Alternatively, if you’re set on using a non-email-safe font, consider incorporating it into the imaging of your email. Just make sure all the important details are listed in the actual email copy.

Now that you’ve learned about fonts (safe and otherwise), what will your emails look like? Want to learn how you can get started? We can help.

About the Author

Kaitlin Westbrook

Kaitlin Westbrook is a content writer who covers business and creative content. When she's not writing, she enjoys movies, baking, and her Pomeranian.

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