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A Beginner's Guide to Pairing Fonts

Jessica Barkell

Pairing fonts can be a challenge. In this guide, we'll show you everything you need to know so you can pair fonts beautifully.

Here's a quick breakdown of what we'll cover:

  • How To Pick A Font
  • How Many Fonts?
  • 3 Combination Strategies
  • Font Combinations
  • Free Font Resources

HOW TO PICK A FONT

When deciding which fonts you want to use, first you need to think about what kind of message you're trying to convey. Is it playful? Professional? Whimsical? This will help you narrow down your options when choosing fonts.

Here are some examples of fonts that convey different messages:

HOW MANY FONTS SHOULD YOU USE?

There's no hard rule on the number of different types of fonts you can use in a design. But too many fonts can sometimes cause a design to look messy and unprofessional.

When starting out, a general rule of thumb is to use no more than two or three different fonts in any one design or project. That way you avoid the pitfalls of font overkill and maintain a clean sophisticated look at the same time. 

3 COMBINATION STRATEGIES

Now it's time to pair some fonts! When choosing two fonts, you want them to complement each other - not clash. The easiest way to do this is to pick one of three strategies:

#1: Pick one font family and use it for everything

Some text font families are extremely versatile because they include lots of different weights. 

You might be wondering, "what is a weight?" Weight refers to how heavy or light the text will appear. This basically means “thickness.” 

This is an excellent way to avoid the fear of pairing two fonts that don’t match. The font is the same so it will certainly be complimentary to itself! You’re just using a larger size and/or different weight for your display font. 

#2: Choose a font family with a serif and a sans serif

This is another easy strategy to avoid the fear of pairing the wrong fonts. Again, because they are the same family, they most certainly match.

Choose the sans-serif for the display font and the serif for the text font. Or the other way around. Whichever you prefer, both work perfectly well.

#3: Pick one display font and one text font

Use one display font for all your chapter titles, headlines, block quotes etc. and your text font for everything else. Make use of italics to diversify your text font for example, captions under images. 

FONT COMBINATIONS

FUTURA / BODONI 

MINION / GILL SANS

BODONI / FUTURA

MYRIAD / MINION

FREE FONT RESOURCES

Font Squirrel: This is probably the best resource for fonts that are free.

Google Fonts: Created as a directory of free fonts for use on websites or other web-based projects and applications and another solid option.

Lost Type Co-Op: Trendy, unique, and vintage-style fonts that are “pay what you want” (including nothing - so FREE).


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