How fonts impact your mood

When we interact with other people we use our voice, facial expressions and gestures to convey a wide range of emotions. Typefaces are the facial expressions and gestures of Graphic Design.



“Type can be seen as mirroring the emotions we display in the real world through our facial expressions and gestures.”


In 1933 Poffenberger and Barrows explored how shapes and simple lines could communicate emotions.
Actually, their theory stated that when we look at a line, our eyes move along the shape. So they asked a group of people to match emotions form a line to each of the 18 curved and jagged lines sloping in different directions. A line going downwards was shown to make us feel “doleful,” while a “joyous” line takes our eyes upwards.

Psychologists Samuel Juni and Julie Gross asked 102 New York University students to read a satirical article from The New York Times. Each was given the reading randomly printed in either Arial or Times New Roman. Afterwards they were asked to rate their response to what they had read. They rated the article as being funnier and angrier, in other words more satirical, when it was read in Times New Roman.

If you think about it we can feel the same about our handwriting: When writing quickly our mood is italicised and when angry it becomes bold and deliberate.

A very good sample of how type can communicate is thanks to David Carson, an American graphic designer, art director and surfer, who is best known for his innovative magazine design (Ray-Gun), and use of experimental typography. His layouts featured distortions or mixes of ‘vernacular’ typefaces and fractured imagery, rendering them almost illegible.




Design writer Steven Heller said, “He significantly influenced a generation to embrace typography as an expressive medium”

If you got curious about it and you would like to discover more just read ‘Why Fonts Matter’, a Sarah Hyndman’s book.