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Never say never. It’s true that you should avoid spraying fonts willy-nilly around your newspaper. (You should also avoid fonts with silly names like Willy-Nilly.) After all, you don’t want your paper looking like a circus poster.
Or do you? Suppose you’re running a feature story on clowns, for instance. Which of these headline treatments would be most appropriate?
Most of us might agree that this font is junky and the colors are garish. A handful of headlines like this make a paper noisy and amateurish.
Now, suppose this headline uses our standard news headline font. Sure, it’s more refined and respectable. But how dull would our paper be if no headline could ever be more exciting than this?
Yes, this headline uses circus type to illustrate a circus story. But is that necessarily bad? Wouldn’t this be a successful way to draw readers into the story?
Bottom line: Yes, “gimmicky” fonts can look ugly, sloppy and clichéd. But with the right topic and the right style, they can look fresh and appropriate. It’s often a matter of taste. So don’t fault the fonts. And don’t outlaw typographic creativity.
Most publications work their standard fonts everywhere they can, but they make allowances for special cases. Try to establish guidelines to define what’s “special.”