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All About Fonts: A Beginner's Tutorial to Font Usage with Kimberly Geswein

Hey, y'all! I'm Kimberly from Kimberly Geswein Fonts

I've been making fonts since 2006 and have dabbled in various worlds of graphic design since my college days (that's a long time ago!) My husband teaches 5th grade in Orlando, Florida and I previously taught high school.  

I was having lunch with Deanna (yes, total name dropping, but I am real life friends with the Queen of TpT)

and we were chatting about font usage and I forced her to let me take over here at Mrs. Jump's Class and share some font tips with all of you! I hope you don't mind me barging in like this!

Fonts are amazing little creatures when treated with the respect they deserve. They can completely change the feel and personality of a document when used appropriately- or inappropriately. Responsible font usage is fundamental in any design process.

I'll be introducing you to 3 main design concepts that are important for teachers to keep in mind when creating things for students.

1. Legibility

If the whole point of making teaching products is to teach children, we need to make sure things are neat and easy for kids to read. Why make a struggling reader work harder by giving them text in a font that is difficult for even an adult to decipher?

As a general rule, using a sans serif simple font for the body text is appropriate. This example shows both a serif and a sans serif font. A serif is a little dash or line at the end of the stroke (as highlighted in yellow on the serif example.  The most widely used serif font is Times New Roman.

In contrast, a sans serif font does not have any of those little dashes or lines. It is very clean/neat/open and easy to read.  Examples include Arial, Century Gothic, and Helvetica.

Some of you might not love this idea of using only a "boring" text font like these for your documents.  I understand. But if the student is the target audience, things need to be directed to the student and be as legible as possible for them.  

Recommended legible fonts:
KG Part of Me
KG Primary Penmanship
KG Miss Kindergarten
Print Clearly
Century Gothic

Display fonts (or decorative fonts- which is primarily what I make) are meant to be accents. They are like the jewelry of your product or document. You don't wear jewelry as your shirt or pants, right? Display/decorative fonts are accents that accessorize the basic staples of your font wardrobe.  

2. Appropriateness
Some fonts are appropriate for some things. Other fonts are appropriate for other things.

We get in trouble when we mix things up and use inappropriate fonts for the occasion. Keep this in mind when creating.  Here are some examples:

This font (KG Only*Hope) is perfectly cute. However, it is totally inappropriate for a sympathy card, yes? 

We can convey a totally different meaning when we use the appropriate font.

The soft script (KG Only Human) is much more appropriate to express sympathy.

Keep this in mind when picking a font and make sure the font is appropriate for both the audience and the topic. A wild zebra font might be totally fun and cute and whimsical and you just oh-my-gosh need to use it. But maybe waiting for a safari project would be more appropriate than putting it on a fractions interactive notebook page.

3. Moderation.
A general rule of thumb is to use no more than 3 fonts in one design or page. The reason for this is that it gets extremely overwhelming to have multiple fonts for the eye to process.  

On a typical page, this might include: 
1 Display Font (decorative font for titles)
1 Subtitle Font (decorative subtitle font)
1 Sans Serif Body Font (this is for all student-read body text)

I have 3 example pages from the same unit. This unit is actually a free product in my husband's store, and if you like it, please grab it here.

The first example is the original page as he created it.

This page follows the rules mostly- the exception being that the "name" part is in a 4th unrelated font. The fonts used are: KG Second Chances Sketch, a display/decorative font for the titles; KG What the Teacher Wants, a blocky neat font for directions; and KG Lego House for the actual student text.

After looking at this page, I realized that I would actually prefer the student text to be even simpler, as in this example where I have replaced KG Lego House with KG Part of Me. It is a subtle change, but it makes it even more legible for students. I've also changed the "name" part to the same KG Part of Me font so it is more legible. This gives the whole page uniformity.

As a third example, I want to show completely crazy irresponsible font usage. This is when you forget your legibility, forget moderation, and forget appropriateness.  This page is basically unusable in a classroom- despite being the same content as the above pages.  

It's no longer attractive and it looks like a mess with no theme or consistency. It doesn't look professional.

I hope these tips are helpful!  If Deanna invites me back, I hope to share with you about how to pair fonts (i.e. what goes together- and what doesn't go together!)  


Finally, just because a font is free to download online doesn't mean it is free for commercial use.  If you are using the fonts in a product you wish to sell on TpT, be sure to check out the terms of use from the font designer.  All of mine, for example, require a one-time $5 commercial use fee.


  1. Love how you provided examples! What a great topic. Thanks for sharing your expertise :)

    First Grade Fairytales

  2. Great tips! Thanks for sharing Kimberly! And thanks Deanna, for hosting this informative post. YOU ROCK LADIES! :)
    -John, Created by MrHughes
    An Educator's Life

  3. Hhahaha gosh I love you KG!!! This is a VERY informative post! The last "non example" is my favorite part I think ;)

  4. Love this post! It was very helpful. Thank you Deanna and Kimberly!

  5. Great post Kimberly! Now I need more fonts!

    :) Shelley

  6. Great reminders/tips. It's so easy to get caught up in the cuteness of our projects. We must not forget the real purpose for it all.
    Mrs. Brown Loves Bookworms

  7. Thank you so much Kimberly for the tips. I love the fact that all of your fonts include accent marks and tilde. I love the examples. I've gotten stuck on Architect's Daughter and will now explore other ones. I think it's a good idea to have further tutorials. Thank you Deanna for hosting. By the way I hope you return to Chicago.

  8. This is a great post, I have brought a couple of products in the past and ended up totally disappointed as the font that has been used is so unreadable (especially for kindergarten and grade1 kiddo's for whom the products were intended). I totally love KG Miss Kindergarten font I think it would be my current favourite for text body. Looking forward to reading more posts :)

  9. What a great post!! I hope people read that last paragraph! VERY IMPORTANT!!!!


  10. This was awesome! Thanks for the great post! :)

  11. This may seem like a silly question, but if I download a font just to use for things I make for my classroom (no selling of a product) is that considered commercial use?

    1. Totally free for classroom use. :)

  12. I loved this! As a new seller to TPT this was very valuable. I can't wait for the next "font tips"! I hope it is very soon.

  13. Great post! You are so talented!

  14. Fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Thank you for your great post and for the links to some of your fonts that I have not seen. I will definitely be adding some commercial use licenses to my TpT cart again! :)

  16. You are by far my favorite font artist! Love your work! Thank you for this awesome post!

  17. Loved this post-thank you Kimberly and Deanna :)

  18. Great post! Thanks so much for sharing.

  19. "Irresponsible font usage" love it! Thanks for the great tips!

  20. Fabulous advice! I am obsessed with your fonts and it's always great to see people becoming better informed on what is an appropriate font to use for different occasions!

  21. Thank you for the advice! The examples were perfect to bring home the points you were trying to make! This will help me a lot when I start to develop my lesson plans! Thank you!

  22. What a great post! Very informative! Thanks to Kimberly and Deanna for sharing! (I hope there are more!)

    Sally from Elementary Matters

  23. Love love love the tips Kimberly! Thank you!!
    Science for Kids Blog

  24. You have provided some amazing tips and I did not feel overwhelmed-- well, expect when trying to focus on the 3rd product graphic. I will absolutely be able to remember these 3 important tips when creating products. Thank you so very much! Thanks Deanna for letting Kimberly hijack your blog!
    More Than Math by Mo

  25. Definitely great tips to keep in mind!

    A few times I have come across an amazing free font that was listed for personal use only. I would have loved to have used the font for something, but when trying to contact the designer, I either never got a response back or their checkout was cluttered with pop-up ads. That drives me crazy!!! I tend to just move one to something else if I can't easily find the link to purchase the commercial license.

    I love that you make your fonts easy to find and purchase a commercial license. I have your lifetime license, which is such a bargain!!!!

    Thank you Kimberly & Deanna!! You girls are amazingly talented!!

    The 3AM Teacher

  26. Thank you for this informative post! I'm glad you highlighted the importance of legibility for student text. I hate when I see a product on TPT that is amazing and that I'd love to purchase, but has student text in a display/decorative font that isn't really appropriate to use with my first grade students who are just learning to read. :)

  27. Love your fonts KG! Glad I'm doing something right.

  28. Thank you, Kimberly, for listing your favorite legible fonts for kids! I love ALL of your fonts, especially the fun "jewelry" ones!

    Light Bulbs and Laughter

  29. I hope Deanna invites you back because apparently I have a lot to learn about fonts!

    The Math Maniac



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