typography of subtitles in gaming
Game Dev

What fonts to use in video game subtitles?

Fonts play a pivotal role in enhancing the overall gaming experience by ensuring clear communication, reinforcing the game’s atmosphere, and complementing its visual style.

Font Size: Striking the Right Balance

The size of in-game text, particularly subtitles, is paramount for optimal readability and immersion. Subtitles should be displayed at a minimum size of 46 pixels at a resolution of 1080p, adhering to the standards set by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). This ensures that text remains legible even on large screens, allowing players to comfortably follow the narrative without straining their eyes.

For static text elements, such as menu options or HUD elements, a smaller font size, such as 32 pixels, is generally acceptable. However, it’s essential to consider the overall visual balance and ensure that text remains clear and easy to read.

Customizable Options on Fonts

In recognition of individual preferences and varying visual needs, developers should strive to provide players with options to customize the display of subtitles and text elements. This could include the ability to adjust font size, font style, and text spacing, catering to a wider range of players.

What Fonts are used in Video Games?

Most popular subtitle fonts for video games are always sens serif fonts. A sans-serif font, characterized by its clean lines and absence of decorative flourishes, offers several advantages in the gaming context.

Sans-serif fonts are known for their modern and sleek appearance, making them inherently easy to read, especially on digital screens. Their simplicity ensures that each letter is distinct and recognizable, even at smaller sizes. This clarity is particularly crucial for subtitles and interface text in video games, where quick and accurate information absorption is key to the player’s experience.

Avoid using all caps for subtitles, as this can make text appear more aggressive and difficult to read. Additionally, ensure that subtitles adhere to proper punctuation rules for enhanced comprehension.

Blending Theme and Readability

While prioritizing legibility, it’s equally important to select fonts that thematically align with the game’s genre and setting. For instance, a fantasy RPG might benefit from a font with a medieval or archaic feel, while a futuristic sci-fi game could employ a sleek, modern font.

In cases where font selection conflicts with the game’s artistic vision, consider offering players the option to customize the font style in the game’s settings. This compromise allows developers to maintain creative control while accommodating player preferences.

BBC Recommendations: Best Practices

The BBC has established valuable guidelines for crafting effective subtitles for TV, which can also be applied to video game text:

  • Minimize line wrapping: Utilize wide fonts, such as Reith Sans, Verdana, or Tiresias, to reduce the risk of unwanted line breaks and ensure smooth text flow.
  • Prioritize readability: Avoid overly stylized or decorative fonts that might hinder comprehension.
  • Maintain consistency: Employ the same font style throughout the game to create a cohesive visual experience.
  • Consider contrast: Ensure that text color contrasts adequately with the background to enhance visibility.

In conclusion, fonts play a subtle yet significant role in shaping the overall gaming experience. By carefully considering font size, legibility, customization options, thematic alignment, and industry best practices, developers can craft in-game text that complements the game’s visual style, enhances immersion, and facilitates clear communication.


About the author

Tom Henry

I worked as a PM in video games, now I'm trying some new things.

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