Cute and Clever Fonts Don’t Work

By Doug Drew 

When submitting fonts and supers, remember that they are there for one single purpose: to help viewers understand the story. When deciding what to write, the best rule is to keep it very simple and to-the-point. The best supers are clear and concise. If you get too fancy, complex, or clever with the font it’s likely to do more harm than good. If the viewers has to stop and interpret what the font says, then they are not listening to the story. The story and font have to be in sync.

Over the shoulder graphics
The cut-line should match the copy, exactly, right off the top. For example, let’s say you have a story about a big pile up on the freeway caused by a snowstorm. If the cut-line is “Pileup,” then the first sentence of your copy should include the word “pileup.”

Lower third Headlines
The main reason for using a lower third headline is to help viewers understand the story subject. The phrase you pick should telegraph to viewers instantly what the story is about. Don’t get too tricky here. You want viewers to glance up at the screen and know instantly what the story is about.

In addition, keep the banner headline up for a while. In fact, in morning newscasts it’s really important as viewers drift in and out. You might even consider keeping it up for the entire story. They might miss the beginning of the story and walk past the TV halfway through. If they see the banner, they know exactly what the story is about. This is particularly helpful when doing interviews. Normally, the director will font the title and name of person right off the top, but morning viewers are busy getting ready for the day, and tend to drift in and out. Or a viewer might simply look away while putting on their shoes, making toast, etc. If they look away at the only moment the director fonts the person, then they have missed it. Try keeping that banner headline up for the whole interview, or fonting the person the whole time.

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. You can reach him at