How to Pair Fonts

Choosing fonts is often the most challenging part of designing a brand for me. Typography is a subtle art, and I have spent hours of my life scrolling through different fonts looking for just the right one.

(For more on how fonts affect your brand's mood, check out Establishing a Mood for Your Brand.)

And for your brand, you're not going to have to choose just one font, but two or three.

Today I'll walk you through some tips for choosing fonts that work well together. As with every other area of design, there's always room to bend the rules, but these tips will give you a starting place.

Clear Contrast

When pairing fonts, your first concern should be that the two fonts are easily distinguishable from each other. If they're too similar, you might as well just use one of the fonts.

Font pairings with high contrast are more dynamic, and make your brand more flexible. Even if you're designing a more subtle brand, you still want to have enough contrast between your fonts to easily tell them apart.

Type

There are three main families of fonts: serif, san serif, and script.

(For the definitions of each, and more typography basics, check out Typography Basics: What You Need to Know.)

You can mix fonts of the same type, but it takes nuance. If you don't have a lot of experience with design, it's best to pair fonts of different families.

Weight

Varying weight is very helpful in establishing hierarchy as well as adding contract between two fonts. You can find two different fonts with different weights, or you can use two different weights from the same font family.

Font-Contrast-Weight.png

Width

If you want to add some playful contrast to your two font pairings, try pairing a tall and skinny font with a short and wide one. 

Level of Detail

If you have one detailed font, whether it's ornamental, illustrative, or a elegant script font, you'll want to pair it with a simpler font that won't fight for attention.

Matching Details

If you want to add a little more nuance to your font pairing, you can choose two fonts that have some form of major contrast, with similarities in the details.

Sharp/Soft

Pairing an angular serif with an angular san serif can make a very dynamic pairing. Or you can pair a soft, flowing script font with a rounded, soft san serif.

X-height

The x-height of a font is how tall the lowercase "x" is. Fonts with similar x-heights work well together.


THANKS FOR READING!

I'd love to hear your favorite font pairing in the comments below!


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