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 – Doge Shibe, Hide the Pain Harold, Kermit the Frog, Distracted Boyfriend – and the phrases are, too. “Me rn,” “ayyy lmao,” “very woof, much meme,” and “but that’s none of my business” have become permanent fixtures in the public vernacular.
But what about the text’s 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.
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.
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.
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. You can choose “Collections,” than “Meme Templates" if you want to start with a customizable template of a popular meme. Or, 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. When you share your memes on social media, tag us @KapwingApp – we love to see what our creators are making! And be sure to subscribe to the Kapwing Resources page – we’re constantly writing new tutorial and features to help you make the most out of Kapwing.