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Rounded fonts are usually typeface designs with fully or partially rounded stems and terminals. But fonts whose overall shape is circle-based are also considered “rounded fonts.” Many rounded fonts are monolinear with little contrast, such as Goji, Bau, and Lace, but this collection also features rounded fonts with contrast, such as Soft and Chez.
Typical traits of rounded fonts and what they express
Rounded fonts are often friendly in style. For example, a popular rounded typeface is Arial Rounded, a version of Arial with round strokes. Arial Rounded is a system font on my computers and can be accessed and used for free. A slightly more geometric version of this free font is Bauhaus Goji. Goji has stylistic sets—unique letter designs a designer can swap out with a design program such as Illustrator and Indesign.
Famous logos based on rounded fonts are the Crocs and Dunkin’ Donuts logos. The Crocs brand is spelled in all lowercase, and the Dunkin’ Donuts brand is spelled in all uppercase in its wordmark. Both brands look approachable and fun. These aspects are supported with brand colors—a lime green for Crocs and an orange & pink for Dunkin’.
Another common logo style based on circle-based fonts that give a wordmark a rounded feel is a modular typeface like Bauhaus Bau. This style is based on the Bauhaus movement from the 1920s, characterized by clean lines and simple, functional shapes with little decoration. Bauhaus Bau skips terminals in many letters, making it a clean typeface for logotype that aims to communicate simplicity and approachability.
Counterbalancing rounded fonts in design
1. Adding a secondary typeface:
Rounded fonts are best for logos, headlines, poster type, or pull quotes aiming to stand out. However, for long-form body copy, having a straight (not rounded) baseline, or even serifs (a visual extension of a baseline), helps the eye find the next word faster, making it easier to read text.
2. Using a color palette with opposite traits:
A muted or darker color palette, e.g., a light brown with a deep blue, will bring an aspect of sophistication and slowness into your design.
How to enhance the nature of rounded fonts
Select a color palette for your design that supports what you’re trying to communicate in your design, e.g., for “funny,” pick a bright yellow or green; for “lovable,” select a deep pink.
Set your logo or text elements in different colors to make your designs more fun.
Try different setting your text in another case—all lowercase comes across as even friendlier, and uppercase letters will be more traditional but a bit louder in style.