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24 May

Best Fonts for Email: Usage Tips and Tricks

Stripo / Blog / Best Fonts for Email: Usage Tips and Tricks

One of the most striking concerns in the email production process is choosing the right font. Weight, height, width, color, shape, spacing… Does everything matter? Yes, it does, but also one of the most crucial things is to choose legible typography.

In this post, we're going to show you how to choose the best professional font for email.

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HTML email fonts: General rules to follow

There are three ground rules to keep in mind when choosing the best fonts for email:

1. Never use more than two fonts in emails

If you use too many fonts, your email seems very complicated in the best case and annoying in the worst one. Choose only a font or two for one email. In a perfect case, that’s enough to use only one perfect typography but different sizes: one to highlight the heading and another one for the rest of your content.

2. Avoid using more than two font styles in emails

Do not mix regular, bold, and italic font styles in emails. If you use more than two, emails look somewhat messy. Normally, one font style is right enough. If you want to highlight things, you may apply the bold typography style. But if you need to implement the third font, make it situational.

But never underline your text and never apply italic typeface out of email accessibility reasons. 

3. Pay close attention to the legibility of the chosen font

The main feature of your content’s font is legibility. Legibility is the ability to distinguish one letter from another. Of course, legible body text is better and faster to read, so check if all character spacing that they are visible, clear, and distinctive enough.

What is the most readable typography? The experiment about font legibility was conducted by Norbert Schwarz and Hyunjin Song in 2010. The results were impressive. You spend almost twice as much time reading italic font styles and decorative fonts compared to regular ones:

Best Fonts for Emails _ Test

Speaking of legibility... There are two major types of fonts: Serif and Sans Serif. Let's see which font to use for email newsletters.

Which one to choose: a Serif or a Sans Serif font?

Typefaces do affect the legibility of other fonts for email, too. What’s the difference between them?

Best Font for Emails _ Serif VS Sans Serif

Serif fonts could be defined as fonts that have a small line at the end of every character. The most popular serif fonts are Times New Roman and Georgia.

Sans serif fonts are those that don’t have a decorative line at the end of every symbol. The most popular sans-serif safe fonts are Arial, Trebuchet MS, and Helvetica.

During the investigation, I have found several sources which claimed that serif fonts are most suitable for emails, but I totally disagree. Based on the assumption that emails are being observed only online using a desktop or mobile screens, the best are sans serif fonts. It’s easier to read sans-serif characters on the screen.

Email safe fonts

Here is the list of the top 10 fonts that you may use with a 100% guarantee that they will render in users’ inboxes just like you planned:

1. Arial

This font, designed back in 1982, is packaged with all versions of Microsoft, starting from Windows 3 and Apple Mac OS X. Displayed by all email clients. Due to terminal diagonal cuts, it looks less mechanical compared to other sans serifs.

2. Helvetica

A sans-serif typeface, one of the most used fonts of a type, has rounded letters and wide capitals. Designed in 1957

3. Times New Roman

This perfect font has tall low-case letters, slightly condensed, short descenders, and ascenders. Commissioned by “The Times” in 1931. This is one of the favorite fonts from the sans serifs family of many internet users and web designers.

4. Verdana

It was designed to be readable on low-resolution screens, its main feature is tall and wide low-case characters.

5. Courier/Courier New

Courier was designed in 1955 and adjusted to be a monospaced font. Courier New has heavier dots and commas than the original Courier. Courier is the standard modern font used for screenwriting in the film industry.

6. Tahoma

It is similar to Verdana yet has narrower letters, small counters, and tight letter spacing. Used as the default screen font for Windows 95, 2000, and XP versions.

7. Georgia

It has tall lower-case strokers that are thicker than average ones, its numerals blend seamlessly with the text due to its similar size.

8. Palatino

This perfect font was originally designed for headings, advertisements, and printing. Wider than other old-style serif fonts and perfectly suits logo design.

9. Trebuchet MS

Has shortened tails for some letters; in bold, its letters are pointy rather than rounded, and rounded dots in uppercase and lowercase letters. Released in 1996.

10. Geneva

This is a redesigned version of Helvetica. Its main distinction is that it has a basic set of ligatures.

These fonts are said to be the most readable modern font and one of the best modern fonts to use in email design.

11. Helvetica Now

This excellent font is also a member of the serif fonts family and was released in 2019, making it one of the best modern fonts for use in emails.

12. Futura

Here we have a real veteran font created back in 1927 and which also belongs to sans serif fonts. This is a good font that you can use to attract the attention of your subscribers.

13. Public Sans

Another representative of serif fonts which has a rather classic look with thick lines and was originally created for the US government following design guidelines that help their websites speak a common visual language.

However, this does not prevent you from using this sans serif, which is one of the most popular modern fonts for creating branding material and emails.

14. Calibri

Calibri is Microsoft's standard sans-serif font that has been used since its release with Microsoft Office 2007. All the letters in this font have a soft, modern look, with rounded edges to accentuate the typical sans-serif feel, making it one of the right fonts for email marketing.

15. Jam Grotesque

Jam Grotesque is one of the newest sans serif fonts that combines a unique style that is perfect for making it your main font for creating email and adding a personal touch to your email logo design.

Where to download web-safe fonts?

The great thing about secure web fonts is that you don't have to worry about downloading them. They are already supported by every visitor's operating system, so you just need to code them with CSS.

In addition, Stripo supports many secure web fonts and allows you to additionally download other fonts for your emails.

Custom fonts in emails

There are cases when you want or need to use a custom font for your emails either to stay brand consistent or to make your emails look more festive for a special occasion.

We want to remind you that you can upload custom typefaces to your Stripo to get just what you need in terms of unique typefaces for your email campaigns.

Use custom fonts in emails to stay fully on-brand

We strongly recommend that you preview these emails across multiple environments. You can do it with our embedded testing tool.

Important to note:

If an email client does not support a certain font, the latter will be replaced with a default one.  

Here is the list of popular typefaces for email clients:

  • iCloud Mail uses Helvetica as a default font;

  • Gmail adopts Arial font;

  • Microsoft Outlook of the oldest versions often uses Calibri font;

Size of the email fonts

There is no such thing as the best size for email fonts, as quite often, different fonts have different symbol heights. As a result, the same, say, 16px font will be different due to the chosen font family.

I have made an email template with Stripo, which allows comparing different free fonts of the same size. Please, see the results:

Email Safe Fonts _ Working on Emailing Font Size

You choose the one you like and use it across all emails so that your newsletters are always legible and brand consistent.

We recommend that you set serif fonts and their sizes when only start designing your email template — the settings will be applied to the entire email. This will save you a large amount of time as it will prevent you from the necessity to set fonts for every part of your emails.

Did you know that Stripo allows setting different font sizes for mobile and desktop devices? For instance, you use 14px for emails opened on desktops and 16 pixels for mobile devices.

Setting font size for desktops

  • enter the Appearance tab;

  • go to the General Settings section;

  • pick a necessary font from the dropdown menu. The custom fonts that you have previously added to your Stripo profile will also appear on this list;

  • set line spacing;

Setting Fonts for Entire Emails

  • in the Stripes section, you set a different size for every part of your email (excluding banners) and font color;

Stripes _ Working on Web Safe Fonts

  • in the Headings section, you need to pick a font once again — it may be a new one. Here you also set the size for Headings 1, 2, and 3;

Headings Tab _ Setting Fonts, Colors and Size

  • in the Button section, please set the button font color and its size.

Working on Buttons _ Web Safe Fonts

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Setting font size for mobiles

  • enter the Appearance tab;

  • go to the Mobile Formatting section;

  • set font size for headings, footers, content areas, menu tabs, and buttons.

Mobile Formatting _ Email Font

By working on mobile styles for your emails, you make them legible on all devices

Line spacing for emails

Line spacing is the vertical distance between lines. It is measured as the percentage of the size. 

You can set the desired spacing for your emails just in the tabs and sections where you've just set your sizes.

Some sources claim that 150% is the best line spacing size. 

But according to Email accessibility guidelines, it varies between 150% and 200%. 1-point Spacing _ Web Fonts

(email copy with single-line spacing)

1-point-6 Interval

(email copy with 1.6-line spacing)

Links in emails

Don’t use a different font to draw readers’ attention to links. Don’t ever put links without text. The text should explain where this link leads to and be organically a part of the text. Don’t use the words “here” or “link” as a text. They are too short and too general to be click-worthy.

One of the best practices here is to make links of the same color as a logo. It looks great, check it out:

Best Email Fonts _ Wrapping Links

(Source: Email from Epilepsy Foundation)

You can also underline links for your emails if you find it necessary or if it matches your email design.

However, we strongly recommend that you never underline links for the sake of email accessibility — it distracts dyslectics.

Fonts for buttons in emails

Buttons are the same links, but they have a more interactive form for users and are perfectly fit for adding a personal touch. If you provide a link that will take readers to a blog post, you can make it a text link,  but if you provide a link to try out the product you have, just use buttons.

There is no certain rule about the color for buttons that should be used, but it’s better to rely on color psychology and try not to ruin the graphic design concept with too loud color reproduction.

The same applies to serif fonts for the buttons: No certain rules. You just need to make sure the button texts are legible enough. Experiment with fonts and various stylistic alternates.

The text’s color is supposed to match the button’s color and make sure that it is visible enough for reading. Check also if the text is located properly inside of the button. It shouldn’t cross the button’s borders. 

Here is an example where the button looks cool:

Best Fonts for Email Banners

(Source: Stripo email template)

Important to note:

You may add white spacing in buttons with Stripo so that there's some space between the text and the button borders. It makes them more legible.

So how do you do it? Work on “internal padding" in the Button tab.

The Internal Padding Button for Working with Fonts

You can also set a different font size for email buttons for the mobile view.

To do so, you need to:

  • go to the Appearance tab;

  • go to the Mobile Formatting tab;

  • set button text size — to make your button text legible on mobile devices. 16px or higher is the best size here;

  • toggle the “Full-width buttons” button to make your buttons wider on mobile devices; the chances customers will notice full-width buttons are too high.

full-width buttons for your emails

Make your CTA buttons noticeable and clickable everywhere

Text over banners

Here is the chance to use a festive, decorative, or handwritten font that you shouldn’t actually use as the main text font.

Since the text over a banner is a part of an image, it will remain the same across all email clients. And it is expected to be festive enough. So you may choose any.  

Please be advised that it’s better to choose a legible font. And that you don’t have to write too much text on a banner. If something is hard to read, try various stylistic alternates and different fonts.

Best Email Fonts _ Working On Banners

Which one to use depends on your inspiration and desired email design project.

Using decorative fonts over email banners with Stripo

  • when your banner image is uploaded and edited, you click the "Text" icon above the template to start working on button copy;

Using decorative fonts over banners

  • enter your copy in the "Caption" section on your banners;
  • then highlight your banner text and pick a desired banner font from the dropdown list.

Setting Banner Fonts

Join Stripo

Email font color

There are only 2 rules you should follow here:

1. Keep the number of colors to a minimum

You should only use the colors that are present in your brand identity. If you have an idea to use more than 3 colors in your email, just leave this idea aside because it will make text illegible and your email messy. 

If you want to highlight one sentence or a phrase, just use a bold font. Using a different color is ambiguous.

Example of a good color combination in emails.

Font Colors in Emails

(Source: Email from Victoria's Secret)

2. Use contrast colors

If you intend to use bright colors, use contrast colors. Don’t place red text over green buttons, don’t use white over grey. It may seem festive enough for people who have good eyesight. However, color-blind people may not find our text legible.

Commonly for email content, designers use black or dark grey colors. It’s better for readability. The only exception is when you have a black background. In this case, use a white font. Don’t use a light grey font on a white background because it makes it hard to read your emails.

HTML tags for text formatting

Those email marketers who prefer email builders can format texts right in the builder. 

Those who prefer coding emails from scratch might need the following:

  • to make your text bold:

<strong> text here </strong> or <b> text here </b>
  • for bullet lists:

<ul>

    <li> point 1 </li>

    <li> point 2 </li>

    <li> point 3 </li>

</ul>
  • to make your text Italic:

<i> text here </i> or <em> text here <em>
  • to use the same font  of smaller size:

<small> text here </small>
  • to highlight the text with yellow (by default) filling:

<mark> text here </mark>
  • and this one allows you to define a paragraph:

<p> text here </p>

Right to Left texts in emails

Over 550 million people speak the languages that use the Right-to-Left inscription. RTL text is way more than just reversing words.

For instance, you are not supposed to reverse numbers, foreign words, etc. All punctuation marks that you'd normally put at the end of the line will actually start it.

We will not dive into details here. But you can familiarize yourself with all the RTL text guidelines in our "Right to Left text" blog post. 

We also show there how to activate the RTL option with Stripo, so you can use RTL scripts in your emails without coding skills.

Best Fonts for Email Newsletters _ RTL Scripts

Build emails with RTL texts fast
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Email accessibility guidelines

In a nutshell, we should consider these guidelines for several reasons:

  • to enable color-blind people to read our emails and implement needed colors to your email design project;

  • to enable people with visual impairments to listen to our emails with screen readers;

  • to enable our users who are extremely busy and check their emails while driving or cooking and ask Siri to “read” their incoming messages, to listen to our emails;

  • to enable dyslectics to read our emails — as many of the people who suffer from dyslexia are not aware of it, but reading unadapted texts is quite unbearable to them;

  • keep your email design to a maximum of two sans serif fonts.

So, the guidelines to make your email text accessible:

  1. Consider color contrast.

  2. Make your texts left-aligned for easier perception of email copy by dyslectics — avoid center-aligned texts.

  3. Always add punctuation marks at the end of every bullet point. Yes, it may be against grammar rules, but by doing this, we make our emails more legible and make at least one recipient happier.

  4. Keep font size 14 pixels or more.

  5. Do not underline texts.

  6. Avoid Italic. If you need to highlight any part of your text, use only bold type!

  7. Do not use all caps!

  8. Consider legible fonts for your emails.

  9. Use not more than two fonts.

  10. Combine different fonts with thick and thin strokes.

For more information, please refer to our "Email accessibility" blog post.

What is the best font to use for email newsletters?

There's no such thing as the best font for Gmail, the best font for Outlook, and any other email client. It does depend on the language you're speaking. As a result, we dare to say that preferences vary from country to country due to language features.

Due to many experiments made by the eSputnik marketing team, the best fonts for emails for Russian-speaking countries are Arial and Tahoma. Arial is the most compelling sans serif font among those who set up email marketing campaigns in Russian. Tahoma looks great in both content-heavy emails and small texts. 

Helvetica is one of the most popular fonts in English-speaking countries. Arial takes 2nd place. 

To choose the most legible sans serif font, in your opinion, according to your alphabet features, you may test all the sans serif fonts as we did.

Besides that, you can also ask your friends and colleagues for advice to help you with this test.

I have created an email template with Stripo editor with the same text and the same size of 18px for each serif font. 

So, here are the results. Just compare these sans serif fonts and choose the one that fits your needs the most:

Choosing Email Fonts from the List for Your Future Campaigns

Final thoughts

Considering all the above, we can say there are no professional-looking email fonts that are legible and look nice across all kinds of devices. You always have to choose between these sans serif fonts:

  • Georgia and Times New Roman are too narrow;

  • Courier New is wide but maybe even too wide for email;

  • Arial is lighter than Helvetica;

  • it’s impossible to tell apart Verdana and Tahoma fonts.

Apart from choosing the right email font, we need to make our emails accessible by sticking to the guidelines mentioned above.

Stripo offers a number of email-safe and decorative fonts. You can also upload custom ones.

Alex O'Cardy 3 months ago

Legibility is indeed really important when it comes to email fonts, I've seen some newsletters where you had to take some time to figure out what's written there.

Anton Diduh commented to Alex O'Cardy 3 weeks ago

Hi! We fully agree with you. Readability is a critical aspect of any email design and a vital ingredient for improving the accessibility of email newsletters.

Woland Petrov 3 months ago

I can't choose between Helvetica and Arial, and now that I've learned that they're both the most popular email fonts, it makes it even harder to decide

Anton Diduh commented to Woland Petrov 3 weeks ago

Hi! Yes, the design process is a bit tricky thing. We hope you made the right choice)

Andron Silver 3 months ago

Do you think it's a good idea to use the most popular email fonts? Futura and Helvetica are the most attractive to me, but choosing one is hard.

Anton Diduh commented to Andron Silver 3 weeks ago

Hello) Using popular fonts is a great way to make your email beautiful without mistakes. However, nothing prevents you from standing out from the crowd and using less popular fonts. If in your design they will look chic, then why not?)

John Smith 3 months ago

I'm so glad I discovered this article! Fonts for Email are hard to choose, and before reading your post, I thought about using four fonts in one newsletter.

Anton Diduh commented to John Smith 3 weeks ago

Hello! We are glad that you liked this blog post.)

Errico Malatesta 3 months ago

So italic fonts are not the best? I thought about using them in my newsletters, but now I understand that it's better to choose the regular email fonts.

Galileo Cardinale 3 months ago

I've never thought that choosing the email fonts would be so hard. I was planning to use italic font styles, but now I know it's not a good idea.

Scott Piligrimm 3 months ago

I'm planning to use Helvetica Now, it's indeed pretty modern. Fonts for Email are quite hard to choose, and I can tell you I even thought about making custom one.

Woland Petrov 3 months ago

It's actually convenient that you can set the different email fonts sizes for mobile and desktop devices, don't remember if it was possible with my previous email template builder.

John Morrow 3 months ago

I didn't even know that underlining links was not preferable, noted. I'll definitely use these tips for the email fonts, thanks!

Anton Diduh commented to John Morrow 3 weeks ago

Hi! We're glad we could help)

Bill Shiphr 3 months ago

Thanks for the post and the ability to copy HTML tags, that's actually convenient! I'll definitely use these email fonts in my next project.

Anton Diduh commented to Bill Shiphr 3 weeks ago

Hi! Always happy to help.)

Paulo Marreiros 2 years ago

Excelente o artigo dessa página. De muito gosto! Todos as minhas dúvidas e ac e acredito que também de outras pessoas, foram esclarecidas. PauloMar/São Paulo, Brazil.

Hanna Kuznietsova commented to Paulo Marreiros 2 years ago

Paulo, Obrigado por uma revisão tão agradável. Estamos muito felizes que o artigo tenha sido útil. Desejamos sinceramente o melhor em suas campanhas

pirates 2 years ago

nice blog theme you use in your blog can you share which theme you are using

Hanna Kuznietsova commented to pirates 2 years ago

Hello, Pirates. Thank you for your question. If you are talking about the font we are using, it is Montserrat, 16px. If it's not what you asked us about, then could you clarify please what theme exactly you mean? Thank you

Igor Greshner 2 years ago

Parabéns pela excelente pesquisa! Esclareceu bastante minhas dúvidas, sou a favor da Verdana e Tahoma a anos, por ser um formato mais agradável para ler.

Hanna Kuznietsova commented to Igor Greshner 2 years ago

Igor, Muito obrigado )) Estamos muito satisfeitos que nosso artigo seja útil. Desejo-lhe sucesso em email marketing

Khairom Munawwar Baharom 2 years ago

Hi Hannah. Do Montserrat font can go multi-platform on email? (Gmail, Outlook, etc..)

Hanna Kuznietsova commented to Khairom Munawwar Baharom 2 years ago

Khairom, Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, it is not a websafe font. I just uploaded Montserrat to my account, sent an email to some email addresses. Only Apple Mail and Apple iPhone Mail (Native Mail on iOS) did not replace Montserrat with a default font. Others did replace it with the default fonts. Tests with Email on Acid just confirmed that Montserrat gets to be replaced by Gmail and Outlook.

Martin Schenk 2 years ago

Für deutsche Texte ist Verdana und Tahoma nicht empfehlenswert, da die abschließenden Anführungszeichen "verkehrt" dargestellt werden.

Hanna Kuznietsova commented to Martin Schenk 2 years ago

Vielen Dank für Ihren wertvollen Kommentar. Wir haben die notwendigen Änderungen an unserem Artikel vorgenommen. Viel glück

rohit dubey 3 years ago

Thanks for sharing this amazing content. This is really helpful for us.

Hanna Kuznietsova commented to rohit dubey 3 years ago

Rohit Dubey, We're glad to hear you find this helpful. You might be interested to know that you can upload custom fonts to your projects with Stripo. https://stripo.email/blog/add-use-custom-fonts-stripo/ Have a great day!

Marcia Bosscher 3 years ago

What font are you using for this post? I like it!

Hanna Kuznietsova commented to Marcia Bosscher 3 years ago

Marcia, Thank you. We are flattered to know. It's Montserrat, 16px. For your convenience, to detect fonts on other websites, you can use this tool http://whatfontapp.com/ Have a good day

Myron Gould 3 years ago

I found this article to be a very helpful refresher. Thank you!

Hanna Kuznietsova commented to Myron Gould 3 years ago

Myron, We're glad you liked it. You may be also interested in reading Paul Airy's post to find out which of the web-safe fonts is best for email accessibility. http://createsend.com/t/d-ABFFF5F25EC93A19 Also, we're glad to say that you can upload custom fonts with Stripo. If you have any questions about custom, web-safe and accessible fonts, or if you have any questions regarding our tool, please feel free to contact us at any time. Thank you for your interest in our blog!

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