Notes on Pairing Fonts and Typefaces

Notes on Pairing Fonts and Typefaces

1. Design output is everywhere. From physical material through flyers, posters, billboards to digital through logos, presentations, infographics and such. A good design rarely uses only one font/typeface for the whole layout. It needs variation in order for the viewer to distinguish the differences of those elements. This pairing process may not be considered as a science that has to follow a formula, but it is an art. It may have some basic rules, but the best practices must be considered in order for the design to appeal to the public.

2. One may think that picking and pairing fonts and typefaces are just a simple task but this actually needs a keen eye for detail, as all elements that will be used in the whole design layout need to be.

3. Follow the Rule of 3. Ironic that there is a rule, right, but this has been proven by design experts that you can only use three fonts or typeface in one layout for the whole design to work harmoniously. Otherwise, it will look like there’s a lot going on or worse, a mess.

4. Design experts said that pairing a Sans Serif header with a serif body is the safest choice one can make. It is impossible to go wrong with this pairing.

5. It is also important to note the content or the message of the design. If the font or typeface has ‘that personality’ that may distract the viewer, the designer should rethink and just settle for a neutral font for the efficiency of the whole design. Sometimes, no-nonsense typeface just gets the job done right away.

6. Avoid using two typefaces in the same classification. For example, using two slab serifs will create an unwanted conflict in the design. One slab serif is already dominating and putting two together will be too much.

7. Pairing fonts and typefaces is a way of guiding the viewers’ eyes to the material. It low-key serves as a determinant of the function of the content or statement. The difference could differentiate the header to the body, to the important and the not so much and such.

8. Be aware of the ‘personality’ of every font or typeface you will use. Keep it balanced by pairing it with its ‘opposite’ or a neutral one to tone down.

9. Most designers rely on their gut feel whenever they pair fonts. And that’s totally ok. Just keep yourself surrounded with great outputs from notable magazines, websites and such to develop that instinct.

10. Pairing also affects the visual hierarchy. In newspapers, lay out artists carefully choose fonts to separate the headlines to the article. Size, boldness (also known as “weight”), and spacing (including leading, the space between lines, and kerning, the space between letters) are all crucial on how the human eye works and navigate through the page.

11. Always consider the context of the message of the material. It will always be a significant factor in choosing the right pair of fonts and typefaces. Is it historical? Post-modern? A news article? A copy?

12. Serifs and sans serifs fonts because of contrast. It will help you bring together two fonts effortlessly. Contrasting with the style, size, weight, spacing, and color will help.

13. Pairing fonts that are too similar won’t help the design.

14. Want to go safe? Choose fonts on the same typeface.

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