Typography 101 for Restauranteurs

Posted by | October 22, 2014 | Restaurateur Resource | No Comments

Having good typography is a given when you run a restaurant. Clean, legible and consistent type is crucial. It dives me mental when I walk into a restaurant and their sign outside has a different font than the logo on the menu and then they go with some completely funky looking font inside their menu cause the owners niece thought it looked ‘cool’. What’s up with that?

Here is a little breakdown of the basics which can help focus the eyes of your menu readers and not to confuse them with your brand:


The most important element to you menu design is legibility. Of course many various elements contribute to the legibility but overall if you can not properly read the menu without straining your eyes (and mind to just understand what is being served) — there is issues.

Subconscious & psychological cues:

· Somethings may trigger the subconscious when it comes to laying out a menu including dollar symbols ($) cause the reader to portray the item to be more expensive than thought. Some high end restaurants use dollar signs purposely but if you are the local diner, this may cause confusion with your menu readers.

· Have consistent descriptions and at the same length. You do not want your starter salad to have a three line description while your star meat item to have one. This also can confuse your customers into thinking the salad is really good! Unless you want them to choose the salad over your main course star items.

· Be sure your font choice sends the right message. When choosing a font this should be consistent with your brand first off because all fonts have an attitude and description to them. If you choose a bold uppercase block font with rough edges your communicating exactly how it is described. You may not want to choose a font like this for a fancy fine dining restaurant.

· Using certain colours for your fonts can sway a viewer. Red and green can generally increase appetite whereas blue can do quite the opposite. Sticking to simple black is a safe bet.


Type hierarchy is very important because you want your customers to read the menu in a particular way. Most of the time there is a header font which states the entrees, mains, sides and deserts etc.  A sub-header which is the title of the items on your menu and the body text is the descriptions of your menu items. This follows a typical hierarchy. Large medium and small. If you have your descriptions larger or in a bolder font than the sub-headers there may be a legibility problem that may also strain the eye and make the viewer not want to read the descriptions. So hierarchy can play an important role in laying out your menu.

Quick tips of typography applied to a menu design:

· Do not use more than three fonts at once

· Make sure to use a legible font

· Be consistent with the fonts if there is an established brand

· Use negative space properly, including Leading: space between the lines and Kerning: spacing between letters

· Don’t go font crazy, use fonts that compliment one another if using more than one font family

· Be sure to use proper colours so your fonts are legible. Again you can go crazy with colour that may obstruct the reader.


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