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How To Choose The Best Font For Email: A Complete Framework

Falak Preet Kaur
ByFalak Preet Kaur

14 mins read

Typography is a crucial part of email design. Choosing a font can make or break the user experience. A font that is not readable, confusing, or email-safe can cause the user to skip reading the email. You must consider many things when searching for a font for email, like tone, structure, and compatibility with the email client.

To help you search for the best font for email, we have curated this guide to help you pick a font and understand its tone, perception, and functionality in email.

Is your email font compatible with your email client?

You might be wondering which is the best font for your emails. Well, there is no one best font for email. The question should be: what makes a good font for email? There are a few important things to consider. But first, something far more important is at play here – email client compatibility.

  • Not all fonts will render correctly in emails

That's because not all fonts are supported by all email clients. If you use a non-compatible font in your email, your recipient will see mostly a fallback font. This will largely dilute the design experience of your email. And if your email experience is not great, the subscriber might leave or, even worse, mark you spam.

Based on this compatibility behavior, fonts are classified into three major classes: email-safe, web-safe, and system and web or system fonts.

  • Difference between email-safe vs web-safe fonts

Both email and web-safe fonts will render correctly across most devices, browsers, and clients. There is a very minimal difference between email-safe and web-safe fonts.

Email-safe fonts are pre-installed on an email recipient's device, and the chances of it not rendering in an email are very low. Similarly, web-safe fonts are installed on an operating system, and there is a chance that your font might alter because the device does not support the font.

In short, web-safe fonts are good, but having an email-safe font is the best option and most reliable. We won't be talking about web fonts here, as they have a higher chance of not rendering in the email. It is recommended only to use email or web-safe fonts.

Below is a list of email and web-safe fonts:

Web safe fonts Email safe fonts
Helvetica Arial
Trebuchet Times New Roman
Comic Sans MS Georgia
Palatino Linotype Verdana
Impact Courier New
Lucida Console Times
Lucida Grande Lucida
Calibri Trebuchet MS
Constantia Tahoma
Corbel Sans Serif
Arial Narrow
Terminal
Century Gothic
Papyrus
Book Antiqua
Cambria
Candara
Consolas
Arial Black
Arial MT Condensed Light
Franklin Gothic Medium
French Script MT
Segoe UI
Segoe Print
Sylfaen

If you choose web fonts and in case the font is not rendered correctly by the email client, Mailmodo reverts that font into a fallback version.

So, returning to the main question, how do you choose the best font for your email? Let's explore.

Things to consider before choosing an email font

A bad font may cause many readability and technical issues that can hinder a smooth user experience. You must also understand the font's tone and functionality to choose the best email font that fits your branding and marketing needs well.

  • Use only email-safe fonts

As mentioned, email-safe fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, and Verdana are your best bet when choosing an email font. Web fonts are a good choice, too. However, we recommend choosing email-safe fonts since they render perfectly on most email clients.

  • Understand the tone and structure of the font

When a user reads your email content, you may want to reflect a certain mood or tone. The font you have chosen matches the tone, behavior, or feelings your brand is trying to convey. This is what we call font psychology.

For example, if your brand is modern and targets a younger audience, you can use fonts like Roboto or Verdana. However, if you use risky and unprofessional fonts, such as Comic Sans MS, which has a child-like and imbalanced stroke, your email might be mistaken for a scam or fraudulent one.

It would also help if you understood some primary font families. A font family is a group of typefaces that share a similar style but differ in stroke width, letter shapes, and overall appearance. For your body copy, you can use these basic font families:

  • Serif fonts: These fonts are characterized by small lines, called serifs, at the end of each letter stroke. They often provide a more traditional and formal appearance and are usually used in print media.
  • Sans serif fonts: These fonts lack serifs and have a clean, modern appearance. They are often used for email body text and are considered more readable on mobile devices and desktops.
  • Decorative fonts: These fonts include many styles with high expression and lesser readability. They include monospaced, cursive, fantasy, and script fonts.

Here's a visual representation of these three types of fonts:

serif and sans serif fonts

  • Consider the readability and accessibility of the font

Consider the attention span of the user to be very, very less. If the email font you have chosen isn't readable or easy to understand, it will increase the reading time and decrease the user's interest. So, you must choose a simple font that doesn't require much effort to understand. Moreover, people with visual impairments might have an issue reading your emails, so you must avoid choosing fonts with letters or lines that are tightly closed.

Fonts like Arial and Times New Roman are easy to read; however, if you use an intricate font like Pacifico, it can take a user a lot of time to figure out what's written in the email, and they might leave without reading it. This can lead to a loss of potential engagement and conversion.

text reading time

Source: Kinsta

Framework to choose the best email font

We have analyzed and added font tone, type, and common email use cases. You can use the table below to pick the best font for your brand based on your requirements. We have also added a detailed analysis of each font in the guide below:

Name of the Font Tone Type Email Use Case
Arial Contemporary and legible Sans serif typeface Email body text
Times New Roman Formal, authoritative, and professional Serif typeface Email body text or paragraphs for readability
Helvetica Neutral, clean, and modern Sans serif typeface Email headings and visuals requiring text
Verdana Friendly, open, and simple Sans serif typeface Email headings, visuals requiring text, and long-form content
Georgia Elegant, warm, and classic Serif typeface Email newsletters and content with a lot of text
Lucida Clear, legible, and friendly Sans serif typeface Wide range of texts including tables, forms, memos, etc.
Trebuchet MS Modern, informal, and approachable Sans serif typeface Body texts, headings, subheadings, and CTA

7 best fonts for email you should be using

Here is a detailed analysis of best email fonts you can use for your email marketing campaigns:

1. Arial

Font: Arial

Arial is one of the most contemporary fonts for both digital and print media. It is clear and readable, making it an excellent choice for email communication. Arial can also be used for text settings in reports, presentations, magazines, emails, and print media like newspapers, ads, and promotions.

Type: Sans serif font

Tone: Modern and legible

Why use this font: Its versatility and clean look make it a good choice for emails.

Email use case: Use it as your email body text.

When to avoid: You may want to avoid it if you are trying to stand out, as it can be bland.

Email friendliness: Email and web-safe

2. Times New Roman

Font: Times new roman

Times New Roman is a well-known choice for professional email communication. It has a traditional look and can seem fancy. However, it has a professional use case in most industries and can be used in emails. Times New Roman is commonly and popularly used for print media like books and newspapers.

Type: Serif font

Tone: Formal, authoritative, and professional

Why use this font: Its distinct letterforms make it clear and readable, making it a good choice for long-form content.

Email use case: Use it as your email body text or paragraphs for better readability. It is a great professional font for email and can help you stand out simultaneously. Tip: use it with trendy visuals to show a beautiful comparison of new and old.

When to avoid: You may want to avoid it in high-impact visuals and with modern and contemporary designs.

Email friendliness: Email-safe font

3. Georgia

Font: Georgia

Georgia is one of the most popular fonts with a dignified look, similar to New Times Roman. It gives off a sense of friendliness and intimacy, so you can use it accordingly in emails. It is commonly used in online newspapers, magazines, etc.

Type: Serif font

Tone: Elegant, warm and classic

Why use this font: Combines readability with a touch of sophistication and decoration.

Email use case: Georgia was designed to be clear and readable on screen, even in small font sizes. It is a great email newsletter font and provides a refined look with long-form content. It is also considered the best font for an email signature.

When to avoid: It may be best avoided in ultra-modern or minimalist designs, where a sans-serif font might be a better font choice.

Email friendliness: Email-safe font

4. Helvetica

Font: Helvetica

Helvetica is one of the most modern and contemporary fonts. It is simple and readable, does not use decorative elements, has no emotion, and represents information very clearly.

Type: Sans serif font

Tone: Neutral, clean and modern

Why use this font: It is one of the most versatile fonts used in branding and logos because of its bold and contemporary look.

Email use case: You can use this font for your email headings and visuals that require text.

When to avoid: Do not use it for email copy because the letters are spaced too close together and may cause readability issues for such a large amount of email text. Also, avoid it if you want to showcase a strong personality and character.

Email friendliness: Web-safe font

5. Verdana

Font: Verdana

Verdana is a simple, versatile font known for its good readability. Unlike Helvetica, Verdana font has loose letter spacing and was designed to be read on low-resolution and small screens. This makes it a great font for all age groups, so it is a great choice if you have an old target audience.

Type: Sans serif font

Tone: Friendly, open and simple

Why use this font: Designed for on-screen readability, making it an excellent choice for digital content.

Email use case: This font can be used for email headings and visuals that require text. It can also be similarly used for long-form content like paragraphs and descriptions.

When to avoid: You may want to avoid it in formal or traditional contexts where a more classic font is preferred, like Times New Roman.

Email friendliness: Email-safe font

6. Lucida

Font: Lucida

Lucida is another modern and friendly font that works well in the digital world. The letters in this font are spaced wide, making them easily readable.

Type: Sans serif font

Tone: Clear, legible and friendly

Why use this font: Made for on-screen use like user interfaces and presentations, and also for printed materials like brochures and other educational materials.

Email use case: Lucida can be used for a wide range of texts, including tables, forms, memos, manuals, headers, titles, posters, and displays in your emails. It is also a good choice for email copy because of its professional and simple look.

When to avoid: Do not use this font for highly professional documents or where you have expressive, artistic, or highly creative content.

Compatibility: Email and web-safe font

7. Trebuchet MS

Font: Trebuchet MS

Trebuchet MS is an artistic yet good web font. Although it has subtle curves, it is still quite readable on screen and is well-suited for web page design. Like Verdana and Georgia, it was made for screens.

Type: Sans serif typeface

Tone: Modern, informal and approachable

Why use this font: It balances readability with a contemporary feel, making it a good choice for email messages.

Email use case: This font has a good readability score, so you can use it for body texts, headings, subheadings, and CTAs in your emails.

When to avoid: Avoid using this font in formal or conservative texts.

Email friendliness: Email and web-safe font

💡Recommended font size: 14px-18px and headline between 20-36px

So, these were some fonts that you can use in your emails. If, in case, any of these web-safe fonts do not render in your email, Mailmodo will usually revert it into a fallback version. Here's a list of fallback version for each font:

Web-safe Fonts Fallback 1 Fallback 2 Fallback 3
Helvetica Sans-serif - -
Trebuchet Sans-serif - -
Comic Sans MS Arial Sans-serif -
Palatino Linotype Serif - -
Impact Sans-serif - -
Lucida Console Monospace - -
Lucida Grande Lucida sans Unicode Helvetica Sans-serif
Calibri Helvetica Arial Sans-serif
Arial Black Sans-serif - -
Arial MT Condensed Light Arial Sans-serif -
Arial Narrow Arial Sans-serif -
Terminal Monospace - -
Century Gothic Helvetica Arial Sans-serif
Papyrus Verdana Helvetica Sans-serif
Book Antiqua Georgia Serif -
Cambria Georgia Times New Roman Serif
Candara Trebuchet MS Arial Sans-serif
Consolas Lucida Console Courier Monospace
Constantia Times New Roman Serif -
Corbel Verdana Arial Sans-serif
Franklin Gothic Medium Arial Helvetica Sans-serif
French Script MT Times New Roman Serif -
Segoe UI Tahoma Sans-serif -
Segoe Print Arial Sans-serif -
Sylfaen Times New Roman Serif -

Apart from these web fonts, you can also get a custom font design for your brand image and identity. However, you must ensure the font is readable, follows accessibility guidelines, and grabs the reader's attention. However, unfortunately, most email clients do not support custom fonts, which might also be an issue using such fonts in your emails.

But wait, I want to use aesthetic email fonts

We know that most of these email fonts might not align with your taste, or you might want something extraordinary that could enhance the aesthetic of your email. But accessibility is also quite important. So, what can you do? To use a visually appealing font that makes you stand out in the emails, we have a hack for you!

You can use decorative or visually pleasing fonts on the images or visuals you will use in your emails. If you use an email or web-safe font, that's great, but if not, use your brand fonts in your branding assets and add them to your emails.

Let's take a nice example of True Grit Texture, which uses compelling visuals and typography in its emails. And how do they do it? By adding these stunning and outstanding visuals and fonts in images. This ensures you are staying within your branding identity and standing out.

fonts in email

Again, even if you are using these fonts in the images, it is highly recommended that the font is readable and looks pleasing to the eyes.

❗Attention: Although this hack is a good way to use peculiar email fonts, we do not recommend adding them. Here's why:

  • If you add an image, it may take longer to load the email.
  • Image may increase the size of the email, which may cause your email to land in the spam folder.

Avoid making your whole email an image; this may cause many technical issues that you don't want.

Experiment with email fonts on Mailmodo

At Mailmodo, we offer only web-safe and email-safe fonts because we want to make it easy for you to find a font that renders well in most email clients. Get started on Mailmodo by signing up and trying these web-safe fonts in your next email campaign.

Mailmodo font collection

If you want to learn more about email design and hacks to design amazing emails, check out our ebook Email Design For Newbies.

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