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I'm redesigning printed forms for a company that has provided me with brand guidelines. Their headline font is a bold sans serif font and the font specified for body text is a serif one.

I would assume that to follow their brand, it would be recommended to use the serif font for the all text and labels on the form. Generally I don't think I've seen many forms that utilize serif fonts in that way, or if I have, it has been on forms that have been photocopied so many times they're barely legible anymore.

I'm tempted to deviate from the guidelines for the forms because I think that the sans serif font would look more clean.

Looking for any advice or input on whether I should stick with the serif as defined in the brand guidelines, or just use a lighter weight of the headline font for all the text and labels on the form?

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It'd say the use of serif fonts in most forms today is not common, so you are right to question this.

Also, labels on forms are not really "body text". Body text is text in paragraphs/columns/blocks of text. So, even with their brand guidelines, I'd say you should be able to use the non-serif font in its normal weight (not bold) without invalidating the guidelines per se. It's quite likely that the guidelines were probably not written with forms in mind.

For reassurance, if you aren't sure, then contact the client and tell them about your concerns. If the client doesn't know then ask them to speak to the the author of brand guidelines, or even contact them yourself directly.

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I think this is really all merely opinion-based. After all, we here don't know the typefaces in question or the brand/company. The brand may very well be adamant about sticking to their type guidelines.

I, personally, don't ever use serif typefaces for forms. The closest I'll get to a serif on very rare occasions is a monospaced face such as Courier. Otherwise I always use a sans-serif face for all form content. Type is informational in nature, therefore I feel sans-serif fits better in pretty much all instances.

If faced with a brand guide specifying a sans-serif for headers and a serif for all other type. I would hope, wish, pray, that the header typeface also contains weights more appropriate for text. i.e. Headers are black face, but there's a normal, medium, regular, etc., face available for the same font. I'd use a lighter weight of the header typeface for labels. Headers are "Black" or "Bold", labels would be "Demi/Medium" or "Normal/Regular".

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  • Thanks for your response. You're right, it's opinion-based. I could mindlessly choose to follow their guidelines, but I feel like this is a place where it might warrant a deviation. The fonts in question are Cera Bold and Source Serif Pro. I do have access to all the weights of both fonts, but I'm also concerned that Cera Pro is a little too stylized for regular text. It's a tough one!
    – wedgatabo
    May 27, 2022 at 19:50
  • @wedgatabo Looking.. I'm not familiar with Cera, but after looking at its weights, I think it's not really over-stylized and should work well at the normal weight. Just my opinion though :)
    – Scott
    May 27, 2022 at 19:57

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