If you saw this on an invitation:
What kind of party would it be?
What kind of people would be there? Adults or all ages?
What kind of food would be served? Beer or wine? Or no alcohol at all?
Formal or casual?
I found this quick test for determining the character of a typeface in this panel discussion. The focus is on designing websites, but there is enough general information there that it is worth taking some time to peruse.
Some of the tips contained within are similar to some I’ve talked about here. For instance, “Don’t use too many typefaces” shares a sentiment with my “Rules of Two.” It also talks about the importance of having an extended character set, so critical for scientific posters.
Near the end, it also provides examples of alternatives to familiar typefaces that often fix some of the problems of the older typefaces.