Challenges and Series · Ministry · Technology in Ministry

Fonts, Colors, and Themes… oh my!

Because you can’t make a list of three things without remembering the Wizard of Oz.

Anyway.

Triple-down today, ladies and gentlemen! Three categories, with three sub-tips for each. Let’s get started…

Fonts

  • Unique but legible. There’s nothing wrong with using a unique font occasionally… as long as it’s legible. Some of the most challenging fonts to read are Old English/Old German style, super-loopy-scripty fonts, and tiny cursive or bulky cursive fonts. If you use a unique font, do so in the header, and leave something more legible in the body of the text. AND FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, DON’T USE ALL CAPITALS!… because most readers don’t like it when the writer shouts at them.
  • Computer fonts and web fonts. Some fonts from your computer are less common on the internet, and many fonts available on the internet won’t be found on your computer. Generally, you won’t have much problem, because it’s best practices to share PDFs instead of Word documents, but a simple change of font can dramatically alter the spacing in a computer document, if it doesn’t have  Here’s a nice list of common web fonts, broken down into four categories:
    • serif (end-cap lines on the letters, such as Times New Roman)
    • sans-serif (without end-cap lines, such as Arial)
    • Monospaced (such as Courier New; these are my pet peeve)
    • Brush script (loopy cursive bits)
  • Free fonts. If you’re looking for some fancy fonts to create a specific event or style, check out Font Squirrel. Their fonts are free for commercial use and the site is really easy to use. If you use a unique downloaded font, don’t forget to save your document as a PDF, or you’ll lose formatting when it goes on adventures on the internet.

Colors

  • Gender-neutral. Unless you’re holding a ladies’ tea party, don’t use pink or loopy girly cursive. These fonts and colors appeal to a certain gender, and will be oftentimes ignored or overlooked by those you may have accidentally excluded. Purple can be used occasionally, but it’s best to stick with reds, oranges, greens, and blues.
  • Printer-friendly. Some printers will only print certain colors, so try to use a pre-selected color from the palette instead of a color-picker when selecting colors. Also, colors are written in a few different formats: I most commonly use RGB colors, but there are lots of ways to input a specific color by hand. Here’s a delightfully thorough website on printer-friendly color codes, if you’re really serious about continuity (because I am, too).
  • Consistency matters. In my current Youth Ministry, I use oranges and blues, with the occasional red and green. If your parish has a school, consider using colors that complement the local facilities. Sure, there are times to mix things up, but there’s something to be said about branding. I use consistent fonts and colors to communicate my specific events. Would some variation of this work best for you, too?

Themes

  • Streamlining themes. For a long time, our school and parish websites looked completely different. Now they have similar colors, with unique components that help them stand out from each other. Why re-invent the wheel when a theme already exists?
  • Theme components. What’s the purpose of your online presence? To communicate information? To welcome newcomers? To engage the reader? Consider these things, and make sure your theme reflects them. It’s not much help to have a beautiful online theme if it doesn’t support your needs.
  • Consistency, revisited. Themes also apply to paper documents! For example, I designed a style of Youth Ministry calendar, and use the same template every semester. Even when I changed the color scheme, its unique layout automatically communicates my organization, because I have used and re-used the same template for over a year now. Find a pattern you like, and stick to it!

Thanks for stopping by! You can check out all my Technology in Ministry posts here.

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