Graphic Design & Theory — Pairing Fonts
Building a good font collection is like populating one’s wardrobe. It requires a balance between versatility and expressivity… everyday accessories, and special outfits for special occasions. Jean-Baptiste Levee
Today in our Graphic Design &Theory Tips we will talk about pairing fonts. There are many different kinds of fonts out there. Some of them can be classified into main categories such as Serif, Sans-Serif, Decorative and Script fonts. Each of them has an use, and knowing it will help adapt the designs to the purpose intended.
🟪 For example, the serif fonts work great for enhanced readability in large blocks of text,as they were designed back in the past for long blocks of text like newspapers, and they accentuate the shape of the letters making it easier for the eye to identify the letter when reading fast. To do this, they add a little wingtips to the edges of letters. For example, the font in this article is serif, you can see already that their use is more formal, academical, and also portrays a sense of seriousness, not necessarily professionalism, as they can also look outdated on a design if not used correctly. For printed media a safe choice is to always go with a serif.
We also have the sans-serif fonts, these are more modern and minimalist. “Sans” is french for “without”, this means without the wingtips, they are more dynamic, more impactful. You can often find them in very bold types on advertising that draws attention. Another term to refer to this font family is “Gothic”. They also portray simplicity and minimalism, great when you want to portray a youthful, vibrant message. Sans-Serif fonts are great for websites and digital media but not great for large amounts of text, you’ll find that the eye gets tired easier while reading them. In general terms they’re the preferred style for digital media.
💜 Moreover, we have the script fonts. They are decorative and there’s a big variety that matches all kinds of tastes, they’re based on handwriting and just like it you can find all sorts of styles, elegant, dynamic, notebook handwritten and many different styles that create different moods. You can find cursive, calligraphy fonts, and also more casual scripts. Script fonts can easily overwhelm a design, so you should be mindful when using them and rarely mixing two script fonts in one design goes well.
🍇 Not only knowing which font to use, but how to combine or pair them in a design is important when creating a media piece. You can get deeper into the topic by taking into account baseline, ascenders, descenders and more characteristics of fonts. However, and in general terms, seeing a feeling the balance of the design is important. Just looking at some designs that you like, that make you feel good and that look balanced is the best guide and inspiration.
☂️ A lot depends on trends and also the purpose of your design and the feelings that you’re trying to evoke with it. Normally, a Serif and Sans-Serif font look good together, but combining two Serif fonts, for example, easily overwhelms a design. Also experimenting with two different weights (i.e. normal and bold) of the same font usually gives great results. Script fonts tend to go well with bold Sans-Serif fonts.
🌂 It’s important to remember not to pair too many fonts. Keep your designs sober and readable, avoid using more than 2–3 fonts per design. You can also try combining capital and lower-case letters. Experiment and through practice start getting your style and a feeling of what works and doesn’t.
Stay tuned in the Graphic Design & Theory space to learn more about how to use design elements in a way that they portray what you intend them to, and take your designs to the next level.
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