Best Typeface (font) to use for direct mail piece?

32 replies
Hi Copywriters:

I am interested to know what typeface (aka font) you guys think is the most enjoyable to read for a direct mail piece.

Please list them out in order of preference.
  1. Headings
  2. Body
I appreciate the advice.

_seolytics.
#direct #font #ideal #mail #piece #typeface
  • Profile picture of the author Bruce Wedding
    A serif like Helvetica or Times New Roman, for all
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  • Profile picture of the author seolytics
    Interesting - this is good input because I normally dislike using serif fonts in my comms because of design reasons.

    I normally try to dress up my comms to look a little more interesting than the normal 'letter template' style.

    Thanks for the input - I may go ahead and make a poll
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    • Profile picture of the author perryny
      [DELETED]
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
        Personal preference rarely matters for font style, layout, and color schemes... at least it doesn't if you want to get maximum sales.

        Look at your target market and that will determine your best used font, layout, and color schemes.

        Michel Fortin has a good article that explains the font differences well.

        http://www.michelfortin.com/put-your-copy-to-the-test/

        Hope that helps,

        Mike

        P.S. The latest direct mail piece that I wrote used Courier font for the body and Impact, Times New Roman, and Arial for the headlines/subheads. The mailer pulled $70K in the first 3 days alone, so anyone who tells you direct mail is dead is LYING.
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        • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
          Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

          so anyone who tells you direct mail is dead is LYING.
          I don't think they're lying, they just don't know what they're talking about.

          Too many people base what they say on personal opinions instead of looking at the reality.
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        • Profile picture of the author Jo_Shua
          Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

          P.S. The latest direct mail piece that I wrote used Courier font for the body and Impact, Times New Roman, and Arial for the headlines/subheads. The mailer pulled $70K in the first 3 days alone, so anyone who tells you direct mail is dead is LYING.
          Very good pull Mike! I love to hear about direct mailing stories like that

          And, thank you for that link to Fortin's page. I will go and read that now...
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    • Profile picture of the author Snlde
      Originally Posted by BrianMcLeod View Post

      Wow, I think this is an excellent way of putting your point across. A picture speaks a thousand words and that adage is truly reinforced here.

      Learning tons of things here.
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      Nazir - Aspiring Copywriter

      "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." - Sir W. Churchill

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    • Profile picture of the author Mr. Subtle
      Originally Posted by BrianMcLeod View Post

      Just a quick note, because few in here know this,... Optima is a sans serif font even though it looks serify (is that a word?)

      Some newspapers don't allow ads with body copy set in a serif font. If that is the case, then I'll always go with Optima.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
      Originally Posted by Johnny12345 View Post




      - John
      Talk about positioning. Brian got there first.
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      • Profile picture of the author Johnny12345
        Originally Posted by Rezbi View Post

        Talk about positioning. Brian got there first.
        Yeah, but he used a yellow background. My blue version is so much nicer.

        - John
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        • Profile picture of the author Mr. Subtle
          Originally Posted by Johnny12345 View Post

          Yeah, but he used a yellow background. My blue version is so much nicer.
          Maybe, but...


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          • Profile picture of the author Len Bailey
            Originally Posted by Mr. Subtle View Post

            Maybe, but...


            Right you are -- Pretty doesn't help if the eyestrain prevents your prospect from reading the copy and placing the order.
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            Len Bailey
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          • Profile picture of the author Johnny12345
            Originally Posted by Mr. Subtle View Post

            Maybe, but...



            Subtle,

            I apologize if that extra 15% dose of cyan caused you to experience unbearable eyestrain.

            My post was in jest. But I can see how a guy who's serious enough about Helvetica to watch a dedicated 90-minute font documentary might have missed that bit of humor.

            - John
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            • Profile picture of the author Mr. Subtle
              Originally Posted by Johnny12345 View Post

              I apologize if that extra 15% dose of cyan caused you to experience unbearable eyestrain.

              My post was in jest. But I can see how a guy who's serious enough about Helvetica to watch a dedicated 90-minute font documentary might have missed that bit of humor.
              I got the humor of the post, but I've seen so many websites with sidebars or blocks of testimonials in the middle of copy using tints of cyan at 25% (or more).

              My post was just to educate some of the uneducated about screen tints.

              Originally Posted by SledgeHammer View Post

              Also see:

              How to reduce printing costs by selecting the right cost effective font ?
              First of all, no one is going to use Century Gothic as body copy in a direct mail piece.

              Secondly... the font is also widely reported to use more paper (since its letters are wider), meaning that the savings on ink are offset by an increase in paper costs.
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  • Profile picture of the author GaryJBloomer
    For headlines? Myriad and Franklin Gothic.
    For body copy? ITC Galliard and Garamond.
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    Top 10 contributor to the Know-How Exchange of MarketingProfs.com (a site with 360,000 registered users), and an award-winning graphic designer and copywriter. Read my modest blog and you'll find I'm a direct response marketing advocate, and all round nice guy. Got a question about marketing or graphic design? Ask and I'll do as much as I can to help you. Follow me on Twitter. Or connect with me on Facebook.

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  • Profile picture of the author Len Bailey
    Serif fonts are easier to read in print, while Sans-Serif fonts are easier to read on a computer monitor or t.v. screen. That said, here's what I use ...

    ------------------
    FOR ONLINE COPY

    Headline: Impact, regular (i.e., NOT bold), second color (red or dark blue), and as large as will fit on the page; break all multi-line headlines so each line is a complete thought

    Deck & Subheads: Arial 14 pt. or Verdana 12 pt., Bold; deck in black; subheads in 2nd color (red or dark blue)

    Body: Arial 12 pt. or Verdana 11 pt., regular, black

    Sidebar Headlines: Arial 12 pt. or Verdana 11 pt., bold, 2nd color (but not the same 2nd color as subheads)

    Sidebar Subheads: Arial 11 pt. or Verdana 10 pt., bold, black

    Sidebar Body: Arial 10 pt. or Verdana 9 pt., bold [unless long enough sidebars are used - then use regular], black

    FOR PRINT/DIRECT MAIL

    Headline: Impact, regular (i.e., NOT bold), second color (red or dark blue), and as large as will fit on the page; again, break all multi-line headlines so each line is a complete thought

    Deck & Subheads: Impact, regular, 14 pt., Bold; deck in black; subheads in 2nd color (red or dark blue); [NOTE: Occiasionally, I will use Times New Roman, Bold, 14 pt. or Courier New, Bold, 14 pt.]

    Body: Times New Roman 12 pt. or Courier New 12 pt., regular, black

    Sidebar Headlines: Times New Roman 20 pt., bold, 2nd color (but not the same 2nd color as subheads)

    Sidebar Subheads: Times New Roman 14 pt., Bold, 2nd color

    Sidebar Body: Arial 12 pt. or Verdana 11 pt., regular, black

    ------------------

    The above is pretty much what I was given as guildelines when I was first hired by Clayton Makepeace ... but slightly updated and modified based on my own experience.

    Hope this helps!

    Len
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    Len Bailey
    Copywriter/Consultant
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    • Profile picture of the author Mr. Subtle
      Originally Posted by Len Bailey View Post

      FOR PRINT/DIRECT MAIL

      Headline: Impact, regular (i.e., NOT bold), second color (red or dark blue), and as large as will fit on the page;
      Poppycock! Impact is rarely used in offline direct mail. Why the heck would any designer use such a lame font when he has access to a plethora of great headline fonts? Offline you're not limited to "web-safe" fonts.

      Originally Posted by Len Bailey View Post

      Sidebar Body: Arial 12 pt. or Verdana 11 pt., regular, black
      Baloney again! There isn't a person anywhere, who labels himself a "graphic designer," who would use the ugly red-headed stepchild Arial (and the "web-safe" Verdana) instead of (the beautiful) Helvetica in the offline world. (It's just one way to spot a NOOB "designer.")
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      • Profile picture of the author Len Bailey
        Originally Posted by Mr. Subtle View Post

        Poppycock! Impact is rarely used in offline direct mail. Why the heck would any designer use such a lame font when he has access to a plethora of great headline fonts? Offline you're not limited to "web-safe" fonts.


        Baloney again! There isn't a person anywhere, who labels himself a "graphic designer," who would use the ugly red-headed stepchild Arial (and the "web-safe" Verdana) instead of (the beautiful) Helvetica in the offline world. (It's just one way to spot a NOOB "designer.")
        Just sharing what's worked for me -- and for Clayton Makepeace.

        As for "(the beautiful) Helvetica" ... it ain't about beauty. It's about results. If Helvetica is producing sales for you, great. Glad to hear it! But I wonder if you've ever tested and tracked your results to make sure you aren't leaving money on the table ...

        As for WHY you would use Arial or Verdana offline, it's simple: When everything else in the piece is Serif, a Sans-Serif font will stand out -- and that's exactly what sidebars are supposed to do.

        FYI: For anyone interested, Clayton Makepeace wrote a good article on graphic design for direct response ... you can read it here:

        Copywriting techniques : Direct response graphic design 101 | The Total Package

        Here's a couple more articles from his site ...

        Designing a direct-mail winner | The Total Package

        How to create successful landing pages | The Total Package

        What's working today in the world of direct response marketing and copywriting. | The Total Package
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        Len Bailey
        Copywriter/Consultant
        Feel free to connect on LinkedIn or Twitter

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        • Profile picture of the author Edk
          Ted Nicholas says, Times Roman. In the piece from him he specified Times Roman as distinct from Times New Roman. There, from The Man. And that's straight up.
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        • Profile picture of the author Mr. Subtle
          Originally Posted by Len Bailey View Post

          Just sharing what's worked for me -- and for Clayton Makepeace.
          You should have looked at Makepeace's offline stuff closer. Very few of them used Impact in the headline.

          Originally Posted by Len Bailey View Post

          As for WHY you would use Arial or Verdana offline, it's simple: When everything else in the piece is Serif, a Sans-Serif font will stand out -- and that's exactly what sidebars are supposed to do.
          I didn't ask why you would use Arial or Verdana offline. I said there isn't a person out there, who labels himself a "graphic designer," who would use Arial or Verdana offline when he has access to Helvetica. Step outside your house and drive into the city and look at the billboards, signage and logos... most of them are set in Helvetica. A graphic designer isn't going to use Arial (or Verdana). Helvetica in the offline world is like air. It's everywhere you look.
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      • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
        Originally Posted by Mr. Subtle View Post

        Poppycock!?
        Seriously, dude?

        You getting tame in your old age?
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      • Profile picture of the author Centurian
        Originally Posted by Mr. Subtle View Post

        Poppycock! Impact is rarely used in offline direct mail. Why the heck would any designer use such a lame font when he has access to a plethora of great headline fonts? Offline you're not limited to "web-safe" fonts.


        Baloney again! There isn't a person anywhere, who labels himself a "graphic designer," who would use the ugly red-headed stepchild Arial (and the "web-safe" Verdana) instead of (the beautiful) Helvetica in the offline world. (It's just one way to spot a NOOB "designer.")
        Helvetica so, but I've been guilty of a judicious use of Impact headline since the 90's in offline pieces. But then I guess that's why I'm typing this lying on my sofa instead of lounging on the beach in Aruba.
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  • Profile picture of the author inspiro
    I really like Palatino.
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  • Profile picture of the author simba
    I've read that the most legible fonts generally are the serif fonts. You might want to favour those in all your direct mail pieces.
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    Your website content is the face of your business. Let someone who knows what they're doing give you that make-over.

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