When most people think about creating their t-shirt designs, their minds are inevitably drawn towards graphic and pictorial logo designs. But did you know that text designs can have an equal or even greater impact than graphics?
Choosing the right font for your t-shirt is an important step in the design process. Picking the right font can be a challenging process, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about choosing fonts that will make your t-shirts pop. Let’s get started right away.
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T-Shirt Fonts in the Printify Mockup Generator
OK, so it might look like we’re starting this guide with a shameless plug of Printify’s Mockup Generator, but bear with us, because not only can you use the tool to create highly realistic mockups of your products, you can also use the built-in text editor to rapidly test out different fonts.
What makes that so important?
With 18 fonts to offer, you’ll be able to see firsthand how even the subtlest change of font can radically alter the look and feel of your t-shirt design.
As an aside, if you’re looking for inspirational quotes for your t-shirt designs, there are plenty of online resources that can be found using a simple Google Search. Be aware that you can only use public domain quotes for commercial purposes. As a very general rule, anything said or written before 1923 would be considered public domain, but the rules do vary. If you want to play it safe, The Golden Quotes is an excellent resource for public domain quotes.
Font vs Typeface
Before we get stuck in with the process of selecting the right font for your next T-shirt design, we should briefly explain the difference between a font and a typeface.
As a general rule, a typeface is a complete alphabet or set of characters. Fonts are the variations of that typeface that come in different sizes, weights and styles.
For example, Arial is a typeface, whereas Arial Bold or Arial Thin are fonts.
In reality, most people, including graphic designers, use the two words interchangeably these days, or simply refer to both as fonts, which is what we’ll do in this guide.
How to Choose T-Shirt Fonts for Your Text Designs
Emotions and Associations
Fonts have the ability to communicate a range of messages and emotions. Your buyers will make snap judgments about a t-shirt design based on the fonts that you choose, so it’s super important to pick the right one.
Here’s are a concise list of emotions and associations a font can conjure:
And that’s before we niche down and start to think about how different genres like rock music or sports are associated with very different font styles.
Font Style and Weight
Once you’ve narrowed down your font to a basic category, you’ll need to keep in mind how it looks when you change the weight. The weight of a font describes how thick or thin the letters look and can be described by a range of names:
Thick, chunky fonts can work amazingly well for short, impactful logos, but they usually look crowded and bulky when applied to longer slogans. Likewise, thin, stick-like fonts can work well on business cards or other hard surfaces, but they lose impact when applied to t-shirts — especially when viewed from a distance.
The main takeaway here is to think about how your t-shirt font will look out in the real world, away from the perfect-but-sterile canvas of your design app.
A Serif or Sans Serif Font?
A serif is the part of a font that decorates the edges of the letter. If you can see “feet” or “hooks” at the ends of a letter’s stalks, you’re looking at a serif font. A sans-serif font is a simpler-looking style without the hooks.
So should you use a serif or sans-serif for your t-shirt font? The answer depends on the style or “vibe” you’re trying to achieve.
As a very general rule, serif fonts are used for newspapers and books and give off a trustworthy, confident feel. On the other hand, sans-serif fonts look a little more modern and clean, giving a crisp and stylish look to your designs.
Before committing to a particular font, make sure you’re making your choice based on what’s suitable for the t-shirt design, rather than following your own personal taste. For example, vintage and retro fonts can look awesome if you’re making t-shirts for classic motorcycle riders, but they wouldn’t work at all for electronic music lovers.
No one is saying you need to stick with the same font and t-shirt design as everyone else, but it’s important to strike a balance between originality and the expectations of the niche you’re working in.
There are plenty more elements to think about when choosing the right t-shirt font for your products. Here’s a quick checklist to help you out:
Finally: Ask For Feedback
Once you’ve narrowed down your choice of fonts, the final and most important part of the selection process is asking what other people think about your designs.
Start by making paper printouts of your t-shirt mockups, and do a series of simple “A/B” tests with friends and family. Often, you’ll be surprised to hear that the fonts you prefer aren’t necessarily a big hit. Conversely, you may find that fonts you previously discarded are wildly popular.
One of the most important things that separate successful print-on-demand sellers from novices is the ability to create products that their audiences love, rather than designing items that appeal to their own tastes.
As you can see, there’s plenty to think about when choosing a font for your t-shirt designs. If you find the subject of typography interesting and you’d like to learn more, we suggest signing up for this Weekly Typographic newsletter to keep up with all the latest trends.
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How to Get the Best Free Fonts for Your T-Shirt Designs
If you’ve exhausted the free font options in the Printify Mockup Generator, or you’d simply like to try designing a t-shirt from scratch, you’ll probably find the selection of fonts that come pre-installed on your computer pretty limited.
So how do you go about finding a new t-shirt font?
Luckily, there are plenty of websites out there with hundreds, if not thousands of fonts to choose from, and many are completely free to install and use.
Here’s a list of the most popular sites for free fonts:
Personal vs. Commercial Licenses
At this point, it’s vitally important to understand that you can’t simply start using a free font for a print-on-demand t-shirt until you’ve found out if it has a commercial or personal license.
Personal licenses are fine if you’re printing a couple of shirts to give to friends, but if you’re adding your designs to a store and using the fonts to make a profit, you’ll need a proper commercial license.
How Do I Know if a Free Font Is Suitable for Commercial or Personal Use?
Many free and public domain fonts have been made available for commercial use, so there should be no need to fork out for a premium version.
Several of the links to the sites listed above will take you straight to the fonts that are free for commercial use, and all of the sites allow you to filter by category, or clearly state the licensing terms of a particular font.
75 Fonts for Your Shirt Designs
Now that we’ve given you some ideas and advice for selecting the perfect font for your t-shirts, it’s time for a round-up of 75 of the most unique and interesting fonts (free and paid) that we could find from around the internet.
Make your t-shirt design stand out or find the perfect fit for that special occasion:
If you’re looking for a handcrafted font for your t-shirts, check out these examples:
Script fonts are difficult to pull off on t-shirts due to their complexity, but look stunning when done right:
Monograms are a great font choice for apparel brand logos:
Go over to the dark side with creepy fonts that fans of horror and goth will love:
Need a unique and bold font to attract attention? These graffiti-style fonts will give you the edgy look you’re searching for:
Playful, fun fonts for kids t-shirts or comic-themed apparel:
If you need a modern font for sci-fi or gaming niches, look no further:
Amazing fonts for cute kids clothing or whimsical adult apparel:
These warm and festive fonts are the perfect fit for Christmas holiday-themed t-shirts:
Halloween is a big event for print-on demand sellers. Get your designs ready for the big day with these spooky fonts:
Tattoo fonts can give your next t-shirt design a rock, metal or custom motorcycle vibe. Check out these amazing examples:
Valentine’s Day Fonts
Popular fonts to help you cash in on one of the biggest sales days of the year for print-on-demand sellers.
Need a unique look for your custom birthday message t-shirts? These fun fonts are exactly what you’re looking for:
Effortlessly cool retro fonts to make your apparel designs stand out from the crowd:
Subtle, classy fonts for all kinds of applications:
A Final Bonus Tip: WhatTheFont
So what happens if you’ve spotted a cool font, but you’re having trouble identifying its name? Then you’ll need a service like WhatTheFont. This site uses a powerful search algorithm to sift through 133,000 font styles to find the closest (or exact) match for the fonts in uploaded photos.
So there you have it: Everything you need to get started choosing a font for your print-on-demand t-shirt designs. Whether you take the Printify Mockup Generator for a spin or use one of the 75 fonts listed above, we’re sure that you’ll find the best typography to make your designs pop.
Now you have the lowdown on how to choose the right fonts for your t-shirt designs, it’s time to get started. Printify’s catalog is packed full of Men’s, Women’s and Kid’s print-on-demand t-shirts at some of the lowest prices on the market, and along with our Mockup Generator, we have everything you need to turn your ideas into reality!
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