12 Rules on Selecting the BEST Fonts to Use for Your Thumbnail Images

Chris Haroun
A free video tutorial from Chris Haroun
Award Winning MBA Professor, Venture Capitalist and Author.
4.5 instructor rating • 54 courses • 1,030,234 students

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The Complete YouTube Course by YouTubers with 100mn+ Views

Everything You Need to Know to Succeed on YouTube by an Award Winning Business School Prof & Successful YouTubers

18:19:57 of on-demand video • Updated April 2021

  • Create incredible YouTube videos
  • How to make money on YouTube
  • Create the best titles that will get you more subscribers and views
  • Create amazing thumbnail images using Photoshop, Gimp, Pixelmator Pro and PowerPoint (no prior experience required)
  • How to edit your videos using Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro (no prior experience required)
  • How the YouTube search engine works
  • Learn how to create amazing YouTube videos using many types of cameras (DSLRs, Mirrorless Cameras, GoPros, Drones, Webcams, High End Cinema Cameras and much more...no prior experience required)
  • How to use audio equipment for your YouTube videos
  • Set up a YouTube Live Webcast
  • Create unique content that works
  • Design your YouTube strategy
  • Optimize your delivery on camera
  • Understand YouTube Analytics
  • Editing tips to improve videos
  • Dealing with issues with videos
  • Protect yourself (follow the rules)
  • Accessories to improve videos
  • ...and MUCH more! There is also a 400+ page book / exercise version of the course attached to the first lecture in PDF and in Microsoft Word formats.
English -: Welcome to the "Which Fonts Should You Use For Your YouTube Videos" lecture. In this lecture, we will learn what the best fonts are for the most successful YouTube videos. And there's a fascinating science behind the topic, and it's often overlooked by YouTubers. Why are we dedicating a lecture to the topic of fonts? Because if your font is not easy to read on mobile phones, then it doesn't matter how good your title is and it doesn't matter how good your thumbnail is, and of course the content of the video won't be viewed if people can't clearly read your font. So let's talk about our 12 font rules. -: Rule number one: always test your font sizes by seeing if you can read them on a mobile phone. And that's in portrait mode, okay? If we look here at my YouTube analytics and see what devices my viewers use, you can see here that over 80% watch my YouTube videos on a mobile device. So always use fonts that are easy to read in portrait mode on a smartphone. -: Use Sans Serif or Sans Serif fonts instead of Serif fonts. Now, a Serif font is a font with these squiggly lines on the sides of them like this. And the word "sans," or "soh," in French, means "without," and looks like this, without these squiggly lines. Now, watch what happens when we shrink the Sans Serif and the Serif fonts to the same size on a mobile phone. You see how it's harder to read the Serif font? And so, whenever you see a font, and right beside it, it says Sans Serif or Sans Serif, my French is awful, I'm sorry, then I want you to use the one that is Sans Serif, and I recommend not using Serif fonts. And just play around with the Sans Serif fonts that you see in your thumbnail image software, meaning Photoshop or whatever software or web-based application you're using to make your YouTube thumbnail images. -: Rule number three: consider using capital letters as they are easier to read and they don't take up much more real estate on your image. For example, if we're looking at this thumbnail with lowercase letters on a smartphone, it's harder to read than this thumbnail on the same phone. All caps equals easier to read. Only use lowercase if you have a very small amount of text in your image, or if it's just like one word or something like that. But make sure the size is large enough that it can be read. Rule number four: use only one or two types of font on your thumbnails. Any more than that can be distracting. An exception might be your logo in the corner of your image, but otherwise, just stick to one or two fonts. But if you're really tempted to use more than two fonts, then instead of using that third font style, play around with making your existing fonts on your image in bold. -: Be very careful with italicized words. Make sure your viewers can read the italics font, because some italicized versions of fonts are harder to read than the non-italicized versions of your fonts. And sometimes the italicized font is a bit thinner as well. Next up we have, "Helvetica, hell yeah." Now Steve Jobs eventually dropped out of Reed College, but he was so passionate about fonts that in 1972, he sat in on classes about calligraphy. In fact, Apple was the number one seller of laser printers in the world in the 1980s. It's true because of Steve Jobs' passion for beautifully designed fonts. And Helvetica was Steve Jobs' favorite font, and it's my personal favorite, too, especially in all caps. And when I got my first Mac in the 1980s, I was blown away by the number of fonts that it shipped with. You know, Apple pioneered this whole process, and before the Mac, most word processors had only one font, in white and on a blue screen. You remember those days? Like this from Word Perfect. I'm really dating myself here, but why am I mentioning all this stuff? Because when you create a YouTube thumbnail image, it can be fun if you think of it as a work of art. You know, each thumbnail image is a blank palette, and a beautifully selected font can turn a boring thumbnail into a work of art. And we really have to think differently about the whole process, and have fun with it too, of course. Now here is what Steve Jobs had to say about fonts. "If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would never have had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac," this is Steve Jobs' quote, right, "Since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them." -: Rule number seven: less is always more. Similar to how we should only use three bullet points on a slide in a presentation, try not to use more than three to four lines of text in an image. If you use multiple rows of text, make sure they are spaced out, okay? Remember that the text on your thumbnail can be different from the actual title of your YouTube video, too. The thumbnail should attract attention, and the title on the YouTube image should include key words that users might search for. If the software you're using to make the distance between the lines of text isn't accurate enough for you, then simply insert a row and make that row have a smaller font size, and of course, we never want to have any letters touching each other as well, as it creates a cluttered and hard-to-read effect. -: If a font on one line is tough to read, then use tracking to add more spaces between the letter and play around with increasing the distance between letters if the text is tough to read. And if you can't find the tracking, or the kerning function as they call it, in whatever software product you're using to make your YouTube thumbnails, then you can add spaces between the letters and then highlight that space in between the letter and make the font size of that space a little bit smaller. -: Rule number nine: use 3D and depth in text to attract attention to the font on your thumbnail. A little depth added can make it easier to read using shadows and border colors. -: Let's talk about where to purchase fonts from and being careful with copyrighted fonts. Now, if you use fonts that don't ship with your graphic software product, then you have to purchase them, as they are copyrighted. And a great website to purchase the fonts from is fonts.com. I recommend going to fonts.com and viewing what the top 100 selling fonts are at that website, because these are the ones that the top graphic designers in the world purchase and use. And we can piggyback on their expertise. And once you see a font that you love that is in the top 100, then see if you already have that one installed on your computer within the software package you use, and if not, consider purchasing that font, as it will help you in the long run especially if you plan on making YouTube videos for profit. Now my favorite fonts are in the top 20 here, meaning Helvetica, Avenir, Futura, and Ariel. And notice that most of the top-selling fonts are not Serif, meaning they are Sans Serif, which again means without the squiggly lines on the sides of the letters. -: Rule number eleven: here's a tip. Use fonts from famous logos. Look at the top brands in the world and see what fonts they use. If you like the font you see, then use a web lookup tool to tell you what the font is. For example, let's go to fontsquirrel.com, and let's navigate to their font identifier page. And let's take an image of the word "Toyota" from a Toyota logo, and upload it to the Font Squirrel website. We can see here what font Toyota is, or we can see similar fonts to Toyota in case we want to purchase or use a similar font. These big companies spend millions of dollars with focus groups testing what fonts work best, but we can buy this font for a lot less on Font Squirrel's website. This website won't always find a perfect font match, but it'll find a close enough match, and just for fun, okay, let's upload the text from Adidas logo to see if we can find a close enough match. Here, we can see that the closest match, which isn't perfect, is a font called Camerick 105 Cyrillic Bold. Check to see if you already have that font in your graphic software product, and if not, you can buy it here for $26. Let's do one more, just for fun. Let's take the Amazon logo and see if we can't find a match. Here we see we have a few options. The first one is called Telephoto Regular, and the cost is $22 for this font. And it's not a perfect match as there's a kink here in the Z in Amazon's logo, but it's pretty close. By the way, guess what this arrow means here? It means "A" to "Z." Isn't that clever? Arrows work really well on logos and on YouTube thumbnail images, which we will talk about in a lot more detail later in the course. -: Be clever, and play around and have fun with hidden meanings in the font, especially with arrows, which is used by Federal Express's logo, and influenced me when I chose my brand name and my logo. And you can highlight the arrow if you want to as well, like FedEx does. And FedEx use lowercases with their logo, and it works for them only because they have five characters in the brand name. So the next time you see a FedEx package or a FedEx truck, look for the arrow in the image. And quick side note, notice how FedEx loves to use bright colors like orange and green in their logos. Fonts are a lot of fun. It's so much fun looking for hidden meanings in logos, and if you create text with hidden meanings, make sure it's easy to read. For example, this one here is Le Tour De France, which might be tough to read, to be honest. But if you look closely, you can find this dude here riding a bike. And just for fun, let's see if you can find the hidden clever meanings in these five logos here. And I'm only showing this to you to inspire you to think differently when using fonts. Okay, what do you notice about this logo here for the ice cream company Baskin Robbins? Pause me if you want to think about the answer first. In the "BR" in this logo here, you will see the number 31, for 31 flavors. How about this one here for Tostitos? What do you see? You see two people sharing a chip and dip under the chip here. How about this one, what do you see? The headphones are for Beats, of course. These are headphones, the B. Two more. What do you see in this one? The P and the S in PlayStation, of course. Last one. What do you see here? I didn't get this one right away, but you see a subway map, meaning the white and yellow lines with arrows, which is symbolic and is part of their branding process. You can eat a sub with any type of toppings you want to. That's what they say. And you can skip the rest of this lecture, but I'm having so much fun with this right now that I want to talk about five more cool logos with hidden meanings. This one here's for Pinterest. What do you see in the letter P? It's a pin. Next up, how bout this one? This one is hard, but you can see "mom" is spelled on Wendy's collar. And how bout this one here? What do you see here? You can see the razor that cuts the letters "G" and "I." Two more. This one blew my mind, I love this one. This is for the London Symphony Orchestra, and what do you see here? Well, we have the letters L, S, and O, and we also have a conductor. Last one, I'm a big baseball fan. So this is the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team, and we see here we've got the letter M and the letter B in their logo, and we also have a baseball glove. -: How fun was that, eh? Canadian. Please find attached a PDF with all the tips mentioned in this lecture on fonts. Thanks.