Let's be honest, we have an idea of what keeps designers up at night. Bad kerning, not enough white space, and of course how to pair fonts. These things keep us up, too. In fact, we take font pairings very seriously … it’s kind of a passion of ours.
Why? Because great font pairings are essential to great design. The typefaces you choose can draw attention, lead the eye, and even influence the foundation of your brand identity.
With that in mind, let’s go through some basic “Do’s and Don’ts” of font pairing. These are by no means hard-and-fast rules. We like to think of this as a font pairing guide to help your brand shine a little brighter and to help you rest a little easier.
First, let’s acknowledge that the world of fonts is vast and ever-changing. It can feel overwhelming when trying to choose a font (or two) for your work. Our first piece of advice? Simplicity is key. Experiment, yes. Take some risks. But err on the side of less is more.
When pairing fonts together, a good consideration is to keep it all in the family. After all, fonts from the same family were designed to work together. When choosing a font family, look for ones with a lot of styles, weights, and cases. This will help in creating variation and contrast … which is our next “do.”
Creating contrast means bringing elements that are strikingly different into close association. Contrast plays with the idea that opposites usually attract. It’s why mixing serif and sans serif fonts is a safe bet. The differences between each font can help establish a hierarchy within the layout and make readability a breeze.
Title Font: Cyrièle // Body font: Avenir Next Regular
Contrast, yes. Conflict, no. When pairing fonts together, you want balance and harmony within the contrast. Just because two fonts are different, doesn’t mean they’ll make a great pair. Look for typefaces that share a few qualities—like similar proportions and the same “x-height.”
When it comes to pairing fonts, it can be easy to go overboard. It happens, pairing fonts is exciting. To avoid typeface chaos, another rule of thumb is to stick with two fonts — three, max. A good practice to help refine your selections is to assign each font a role or purpose in the design layout.
Hierarchy is a key principle in every element of design but especially when it comes to typefaces. Creating visual differences when pairing fonts can help highlight text that needs to attract the attention of the reader first. An approach a lot of designers find helpful is to decide which information is most essential (and least) and make their font choices from there. And don’t forget the squint test — throw your design up on a wall or screen, step back, squint and make sure the hierarchy is working.
Title Font: Made Tommy Black // Body font: Adobe Caslon Pro Italic
At the end of the day, these Do’s and Don’ts are more suggestions and guidelines. They aren’t meant to extinguish the creative spark. In fact, we think the greatest way to get better at font pairing is to … practice. So, go and do. And, happy pairing.
As you start to master font pairing, it can be a challenge to keep track of your vast collection. That’s why we created Connect Fonts Powered by Suitcase — a font manager that allows you to organize your fonts by designer, founder, family and more.