Typography in Game User Interfaces

And How it Impacts Usability

Written by Katelyn Lindsey

A screenshot from Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy.
A screenshot from the game called Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy.

typography noun
the style and appearance of text

Why is typography important for usability?

  • Users need to be able to see, read, and understand text easily.
  • Unreadable text makes interfaces difficult to use and understand.
  • If a game or interface has poor usability, the user will leave.

Typography Basics

Types of Spacing

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Kerning: the spacing between individual characters.

Readability vs. Legibility


  • Definition: How complex the text is.
  • Keep reading level at 8th grade level to maximize usability.



  • Definition: How easy it is to see and discern characters in text.
  • Font size recommendations vary based on screen size, but the recommended minimum for desktop is 16px.


Serif vs. Sans-Serif

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How to Use Typography to Improve Usability:


Specifically for games, consider:

Users need to see gameplay

  • Text has to be minimal in a game UI or it will make the primary gameplay difficult to see.
In this game called I Love Nikki, the UI is cluttered with excessive text.
A screenshot of the game I Love Nikki, which has a crowded UI.

Backgrounds in games are often not constant

  • In many games, the background behind text will change constantly.
  • This makes it especially important to have text that highly contrasts with the majority of the game.
  • If this is not possible, having an additional semi-transparent background behind text can help increase the contrast for shifting backgrounds.
The text in Reign: Her Majesty's UI is bold and bright, making it easy to see against the background.
A screenshot of the game Reigns: Her Majesty as a demonstration of good typography in a user interface.

Users skim text

  • Users scan blocks of text for important information rather than reading through everything.
  • This is especially important to games because text in games often contains key information needed to play the game, such as objectives and controls.
  • Give any key information a clear hierarchy to make the block of text easier for users to get through.
Amberskull only gives users the exact information they need in order to understand how to beat the game.
A screenshot of the game Amberskull which contains the text: 'Hold Signal Collect' as the only directions.


Color Blindness

Her Story allows users to remove the stylistic glare on the screen in order to increase the contrast of the text in the game.
A gif of the game Her Story and the process of changing the settings so that the stylistic glare on the screen is reduced.


  • Use legible typefaces, high contrast, and a font size of at least 16px for desktop.
  • Have an option to change the size of the text



A nice example of captions from The Stanley Parable.
A screenshot of The Stanley Parable which shows the nice contrast between the captions and the game.


Hands-On Project

Download the game Infection Bio War from the iOS or Android app store for this exercise.
A screenshot of the game Infection Bio War, which is used in this exercise.


Identify typographic problems with Infection Bio War's interface.

HINT: Try to put yourself in the shoes of a user. Is the text legible? Does the text crowd the interface?

Finally, how would you change the typography in order to make the game more usable?

Final Thoughts

Additional Resources


10 Typography and Design Tips for Beginners

Typography Basics


Typography Influences Usability

Making Typography More Accessible

4 Tips on Typography in UI Design

The Usability of Video Game Design

Learn Better UX/UI From Video Games


Norman Doors: An Example of Bad Design