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How fonts are used when designing memorial plaques - typography
Typography, for our purpose, is the use of fonts (type) in the creation of the text on memorial plaques

How is type set for memorial plaques

Long ago, in a foundry far far away, type was set by hand. Individual metal or wood letters were place by hand in a pattern that was used as the mold to cast the plaque. The process was almost identical to that used by old newspapers to set the text. Now, the molds for memorial plaques are photographically created from computer art files. As a result of this technology, almost any letterstyle (or artwork) can be incorporated into a plaque design including custom letter styles.

Types of fonts for memorial plaques

Example of types of typseWe did say "almost" any font would cast. In casting metal such as bronze, it is important to understand why certain type fonts will not cast and which look better than others.

The plaque casting process

In very simplified terms, bronze plaques are cast by pouring molten metal, in this case bronze, into a mold. The mold is made of fine sand. The patterns created by the artwork are placed into a frame, then fine sand is poured in on top of the pattern leaving voids in the sand where the metal will settle. Then molten metal is poured into the mold and fill the voids left by the pattern creating the letters and designs. So this is all about directing the molten metal into the nooks and crannies of the pattern before the molten metal cools and hardens.

Why a font will not cast

Now that we know that molten metal has to flow into nooks and crannies to form the letters, we can see that very tiny openings, will not work for us. There is no way the molten metal will get into the small openings. This means that very small letters, such as those smaller than 1/4" will NOT cast. This is why our design wizard will not let you select any font less than 1/4 inch all upper case or 3/8 inch in mixed case. Also, fonts with opening in them such as the bottom font in our image, likewise, will not cast - just no place for the metal to flow.

Serif or Sans Serif font

In typography a serif is a small line that ends the stroke on some of the characters in a font. These lines are sometimes called feet. A sans serif font doesn't have the little lines, hence sans serif or without serif. The word sans comes from the French and means without. Some serif fonts include Goudy, Times Roman, and Palatino. Some sans serif fonts include Arial, Helvetica, and Calibri. It is easier to read a serif font than a sans serif font. The serifs seem to make the text easier to read. Serifs come in all sizes and thicknesses. Some are heavy as in Century Schoolbook and some are very subtle as in Copperplate Gothic. The fonts you select depends upon YOUR sense of aesthetics. The best place to start is looking in your word processing program. Most of the fonts will cast beautifully. Remember, no outline fonts and your selection will be fine.

Which font style looks better?

We can't answer this outright but we can offer some guidance. It is said that all UPPER CASE letters are harder to read then Mixed Case letters. Script is usually harder to read. If memorial plaques are to be read from a distance, the larger the letters, the easier they are to read.

Raised vs Recessed Graphics

The casting process creates plaques with 2 levels of graphics - raised and recessed. Graphic images are raised 0.1" from the background texture.

Letters can be recessed on a bronze plaque if the stroke of the letters is at least 1/8" at all points or serifs.

Fonts offered on our design wizard

Design Wizard FontsThese are samples of a few of the most common fonts used on memorial plaques. They are also the fonts we offer for use in our on line design wizard.

Let us know if you have a special font you would like used on your memorial plaques.