Memes are social information hybrids: part image, part text. Sometimes they have other parts, but they almost always have these two.
The images are instantly recognizable, but what about the text style? Font and text style have a large role in the memes we know and love. I’ll give you a brief guide to the most common meme fonts, how they’re used, and the easiest ways to make your meme text pop.
The Original: IMPACT
Impact font is the “classic” meme font. The first globally viral meme, Happy Cat, was simply *said cat* with “I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?” blazoned across the top of the photo in white, all-caps Impact. Ever since, the font has defined the mainstream meme style, from “Y U NO” to the captions of your favorite SpongeBob image macro.
Impact is by far the most popular font used on Kapwing's meme maker (surprising, since Arial is the default).
Comic Sans MS
Comic Sans is a meme of its own, really. It evokes the simpler internet culture of the early 2000’s, when the casual, fun font was once acceptable for non-ironic usage. Now it’s a sort of “Boomer” font. But Comic Sans also has some special, specific roles in meme culture.
The Doge Shibe meme family, for instance, is immediately recognizable for its use of brightly colored Comic Sans floating text. To use another font in a Doge meme would be as sacrilegious as correctly using its intensifying adjectives and adverbs correctly.
While abstract or surreal memes also occasionally use Comic Sans, they're more often associated with with animated text or WordArt features, in obscure, almost unintelligible meme canvases.
What once occupied strange, sparsely populated corners of the internet has now approached the mainstream, and these types of absurdist memes are becoming more and more recognizable.
Cursive or Calligraphic Scripts
Over the last two years, two separate meme families have grown in popularity using various “fancy” fonts. The “Galaxy Brain” meme sometimes uses fancy fonts for the most big-brained ideas, and the “Fancy Pooh” meme requires cursive or calligraphic fonts for its sophisticated variants. Is the font you're using extremely elegant? Would it require years of training to write by hand? Is it nearly illegible? The more effort required to read it, the better.
Try fonts like Dancing Script or Satisfy to get the fancy effect. Or, just add an Italic styling to Arial or Times New Roman.
When in doubt, use Arial. Really. Impact may seem like the go-to font for memes, but you should avoid it if you don’t want your meme to feel like a 2006 image macro. Other plain, unassuming fonts have their hang-ups, as well. Times? Too corporate. Helvetica? Too hip. Courier? Almost a plaintext meme of its own. Arial is the way to go, if you want your picture and caption to be the center of attention in your meme.
Modern meme makers are naming Montserrat as a favorite font. Montserrat is thinner and more square than Arial, giving your memes a more modern vibe. It has become popular because it's very similar to the Twitter font so that it blends in with Tweet reposts and screenshot memes.
Making Memes With Custom Fonts
Now that you know the most important meme fonts and when to use them, you need to know how to use them. I recommend using Kapwing – it was designed as a streamlined meme maker, and it gives you hundreds of font options to choose from!
To make your meme, go to Kapwing.com and start with the Studio. You can choose an existing meme template in the “Collections” page, then “Meme Templates." From this meme library, you can start with a customizable template of a popular meme.
If you want to make your meme from scratch, click “Start Editing” from the home page. If you’re already signed in, click “New Project” and “Start with Studio.”
In the Studio, you can upload any image, video or GIF from your device or any web location. Once your file is in the Studio, you may want to click one of the “Add Padding” options on the right side of the window, depending on the type of meme you’re making.
To add a text box, select “Text” from the upper toolbar. Choose the button that says “Arial” from the right side of the window and either browse the most popular fonts, or click “Sort A-Z” to look through the comprehensive font list. You can even add custom animations to your text by clicking “Animate.”
Above all, memes should showcase your creativity! So if you want your memes to have a specific tone, attitude, or character, playing with you fonts can be a good way to stand out. If you're interested in more tips and tutorials on creating great memes and social media trends in 2021, check out the Kapwing YouTube channel, where we post multiple new videos every week. And while you're here, take a look at some related articles on making memes online: