Monday, April 9, 2012

Choosing Your Direct Mail Font

All of the talk these days is about high tech communication. Whether it's e-mail or texting, there's very little mention of direct mail when we talk about communicating with supporters. But don't bring out the shovel yet; direct mail isn't dead.

In a story in the February 1, 2012 edition of The NonProfit Times, Kory Christianson, executive director of St. Joseph's Indian School, talked about his organization's use of direct mail. For example, they send a letter with an e-mail follow-up confirming they received it. This is one of the many ways a nonprofit can continue to make use of direct mail.

Appearance is everything when it comes to sending out letters. This all starts with choosing the right font when composing your message. It's all well and good to use the default font in your word processor (usually Times New Roman), but that can be a little bland. It's worth experimenting to see if there are other fonts that can jazz up your message without making it look over the top.

In his book "Direct Mail for Dummies," Richard Goldsmith wrote about four types of fonts that can give your direct mail increased readability:

  • Serif Type: These fonts have little tails hanging off the ends of the letters. Serif fonts are easier to read.
  • Sans Serif Type: These have no tails and are harder to read in small type. Sans serif fonts are often used for things like headlines.
  • Reverse Type: This is white letters in a background color. It’s also more difficult to read depending on size.
  • Italic Text: Although good when used to emphasize important words or phrases, italic text is difficult to read when it’s used for long paragraphs.
Goldsmith also urged writers not to mix too many typestyles or sizes. This will make your direct mail message look random and unprofessional. 

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