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Originally Posted On: https://instantcard.net/guidelines-appropriate-use-fonts-id-card-design/
D cards and badges are a necessity for many organizations. This need may arise due to high security requirements, for example if you work with sensitive data, valuable equipment, or operate a potentially dangerous site like a manufacturing facility or chemical plant.
Identification is essential for ensuring access is only provided to employees or visitors who have permission to be there. It guarantees an acceptable standard of security and will prevent the likelihood of accidents or malicious attacks. A simple ID card allows an employee to prove they are who they say they are, and gain access to the workplace for the purposes of their job. Done right, it is a hugely quick and efficient system that can save organizations a great deal of time and money.
But there is no cookie cutter approach to creating ID badges for an organisation. There are so many different factors to think about during the design and implementation process. For example, will the badges be worn as lanyards around the neck so they’re constantly on display, or will they be carried and only shown when requested? Will the cards have computer chips inside to allow instant access into secured areas?
The design itself is also an important consideration. You of course need the card or badge to be legible to allow swift identification. But you also want it to be aesthetically pleasing and aligned with your company’s branding.
The choice of font you use on your ID badges may cause you some difficulty. There are thousands of different fonts out there, many of which look almost identical. This enormous selection can make the decision process somewhat overwhelming. And that’s before you even start thinking about things like colors, spacing, and point size.
If you don’t know your Helvetica from your Times New Roman, the following guide will help you arrive at your decision with a minimum of fuss. Here are a few simple rules concerning the appropriate text and fonts to use when planning the design of your photo ID badges.
Plan before you design
Before you even begin to play around with fonts and styles, you need to work out exactly what will feature on your ID cards. Knowing what information you need to include will help you come up with the perfect design to accommodate it. A simple layout will make it easier to play around with different fonts and stylisations but if there are a lot of details you cram in then the ID card may end up looking a little cramped. The information on your ID cards may include:
- Full Name
- Job Title
- Level of Access
- Portrait Photo
- Company Logo
- Date of Birth
- Phone Number
- Email Address
It can help to draw out a basic mockup of what you want your card to look like. This will enable you to work out details such as the size of card required and the amount of spacing needed to separate each individual element. Only then can you then decide on the most fitting font.
1. Get to know different fonts
There are hundreds of thousands of different fonts and typefaces from which to choose. Although you can’t possibly have the time or inclination to consider the pros and cons of every single one, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with a few different options. If you simply pick the first font that looks halfway decent, you may end up regretting your choice.
Open your document editor of choice and experiment with several options, making sure to look at the most common variations such as Arial, Helvetica, and Times New Roman. Write a few sentences in each font and try to envision how it will look on a company-branded ID card. Make a list of the ones that stand out and use this to inform your final decision. Having a more extensive knowledge of what is available will enable you to pick the best option possible.
2. Ensure clarity
The main purpose of an ID card is not to look nice or make a style statement. It is about safety and security, and it is crucial that all writing is clear and legible by anyone. This means you should avoid fonts with excessive styling, cursive, or even iconography. At best, this will be distracting. At worst, it will be illegible and potentially lead to miscommunications and breaches of protocol. Instead, opt for simple, non-serif fonts such as Helvetica, Arial, and Futura.
3. Pick the right font sizing
Most ID cards will feature a hierarchy of font sizes, each one reflecting the importance of a given field. The eye will be attracted to the largest printing first, so the most immediately important information should be in a bigger point size. The detailing will get smaller as the content becomes less important. Larger fonts should be used for details like names and access levels, while things like email addresses, contact numbers, will be fine in a smaller font.
4. Stick to one font
There is no reason why you should be using more than one font within the space of one tiny ID card. It will look messy and distracting, while also being hard for the eye to switch from one font to another. Stick to a single font and the card will look cleaner and more professional. It may be that your company logo has a slightly different font to the one you choose, but this should be the only exception.
5. Minimize variations
Bold, italic, or underlined text can serve a point in longform content for highlighting important information, but it has no place on an ID card. The importance of the information displayed on the ID is a given. Minimize the use of these variations unless absolutely necessary. You may sparingly use bold and italic variations at times, but you should generally avoid underlining as it creates excessive clutter.
6. Check your spacing
The amount of spacing between the different elements of the card is a key consideration. Not only the spacing between the lines of text, but also the individual words and letters. You need to strike the right balance between cramming text too closely together and spacing everything too far apart. There needs to be a clear separation between different words and sections. If you’re struggling to fit everything in, it may be that the problem lies with your font size or an excess of information.
7. Be sparing with information
The best ID cards are simple and easy to read. You may want to include as much information as possible, but overdoing it can end up being a hindrance rather than a benefit. You are only working with a small canvas, so don’t get carried away trying to cram in too much information. Do you really need to put a full address and phone number on the front of your employee ID badges? There is plenty of room on the back for the details that aren’t immediately pertinent to identification and access requirements. Try to make the best possible use of space in order to highlight the most important sections.
8. Avoid clashing colors
It may be that you wish to design an ID card that aligns with your corporate brand guidelines. Although strengthening brand identity across your organization is unarguably a good thing, you need to be careful about the use of colors. If your branding is pale yellow and white, it’s going to be hard for a security guard to read anything at all. Black is always the most readable and non-controversial color. It may not look the most exciting, but the main purpose of an ID card is function, not fashion. The background color is also important, as it has a huge impact on the legibility of the text. White is best, as it makes most fonts stand out but if you have a clear and bold typeface you may be able to mix things up a bit.
If you are planning to be original with different colors and tones, make sure you test out the design before ordering a huge batch. You don’t want to have to send them back because they are impossible to decipher.
As you have seen, there is a surprising amount of thought that goes into designing a company ID card. Although you have almost endless opportunities for fonts, customisation and attractive designs, the overall conclusion is that simple is better. It’s best to play it safe by avoiding unusual fonts and bold choices. Your primary consideration should be designing an ID card that is clear and legible.
By following these simple guidelines, your employee ID cards are guaranteed to look clean and professional. If you need to design and create ID cards for your organisation, get in touch with InstantCard today. We offer a range of custom templates and pricing options for companies of all sizes.