Simple Font Pairing Basics

Whether you are designing a website, typing up a word document, or creating an email signature, you’re faced with the decision of what font to use. What you pick can be the difference between a good design and a not-so-good one.

Last week I shared some tips for designing print documents, and I’ve decided to expand on what little I shared about combining fonts:

Pin the three simplest ways to combine fonts!

 

1 | Contrast: This is the number one requirement when pairing two different fonts in the same document. Most times, you wouldn’t use Times and Georgia together. They are both serifs – they are way too similar and clash majorly. You also don’t want them to be too different - that also clashes. 

Mission Script + Mission Gothic

Mission Script + Mission Gothic

 

2 | Thick/thin: Try using one font with multiple weights. Proxima Nova has several weights, making it easy to find a different style for the header, body, and callout title – all while still keeping everything cohesive.

Proxima Nova Black + Thin

Proxima Nova Black + Thin

 

3 | Serif/sans: Serifs and sans serifs generally have plenty of contrast - it’s hard to go wrong when pairing them! Try choosing fonts that have a similar “vibe”.

Gill Sans + Palatino

Gill Sans + Palatino

 

4 | Large/small: Using different sizes is the easiest way to achieve contrast. Here, the main title is significantly larger than the other. Also, notice that the smaller font is also slightly tracked out.

Sail + Helvetica Neue

Sail + Helvetica Neue

 

5 | Hierarchy is key in typography; there shouldn’t be a question about what information is the most important. This is evident in print publications like magazines. The key information is established through size and weight – prompting you to look there first.

Klinic Slab Medium + Thin

Klinic Slab Medium + Thin

 

6 | Use 1-3 fonts: Like most rules, there are times where it can be broken but as a general rule, you shouldn’t use too many fonts. Sometimes, you can even use one font with multiple weights to achieve the amount of contrast and hierarchy you need.

 

Picking fonts for a project can take some time, but it's an important part of the design process. What are your favorite font combinations?