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Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies

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Table of Contents

Do you realize that most clients will look at a project appearance before taking a look at its content? You betcha! It is such a game for designers. They must play hard for the complexity of typography to get a good score in design. Analogically, if the content is a king, then the typography is the red carpet. That is true because typography is everywhere we look. It appears in the online or printed publications, books, websites, or even in our daily life. We all know how typography means everything in all aspects.

In typography itself, there are two elements which people often argue about the definition. If so, who are they actually? Now let’s get right on down to the nitty-gritty.

Typeface vs. Font

Typeface and font are two critical elements in typography. But, we always have the misconception whether they are synonyms or not. The fact is not. The typeface is a set of fonts, each of which has its own mood and character, such as Serif, Sans-Serif, Script, Blackletter, and Decorative. On the other hand, the font is a specific typeface with a set of width, size, and weight. For example is a Serif, which consists of Times New Roman, Garamond, Georgia, and way more. Both are just like an album with many songs, it is as simple as that.

 

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks 1: Understanding Typefaces

The typeface can be a vast and complex thing, but it does not have to be. We only need a little to make a big difference in the stuff we do every day. Here are five basic typefaces that you need to know first.

■ Serif

Serif has small feet at the end of the stroke. The most popular Serif typeface are Times New Roman, Cambria, Cooper Black, Garamond, and many more. Serif is more ornamental. It is a good fit for heading and logo since it creates a sense of formality and credibility.

■ Sans-Serif

Sans-Serif does not have an extra stroke. Popular Sans Serif fonts include Helvetica, Avant-Garde, Arial, Geneva, and much more. This style gives a feeling of casualty, simplicity, and approachability than Serif. These fonts are great for the contents of websites, blogs, and other flat designs to create a sense of humanistic and classy.

■ Scripts

Scripts are the letterform related to human handwriting, such as Bistro Script, Shelly, Minstral, etc. Scripts offer a wide assortment of moods and characteristics, from formal to casual. Traditional Scripts are used for invitations, announcements, and decorative letters with a sophisticated tone. In contrast, casual Scripts are often used for ads, brochures, and anything that requires an informal look.

■ Blackletter

Blackletter is referred to as Gothic or Old English with a dense black texture and highly decorated caps. Some Blackletter fonts are Fette Fraktur and Engravers Old English. They can express the spooky, mystical, and classical vibe in book covers, movie titles, and CD packaging.

■ Display or decorative

Display or decorative is another type of handwriting style. Some examples of Display typeface are Morning Glory, Burnout, Carter Layered, and Pittsbrook. Different types of tattoo fonts, graffiti-style fonts, and many more can be listed in this category. A display typeface is suitable for the E-Sport logo, drink or food label, brand packaging, headline, and quote writings, etc.

Good font choices help our design look more readable. Whether our content is good or not, if the font choices are sloppy, it will look unprofessional. Then, how do we treat our design project to engage new clients in the fact that our clients will never know the way we work? So simple, it is merely by showing our professional content with good typography. Once our typography is on point, the client will trust us more.

 

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks 2: Getting Started

Font pairing is like choosing color schemes. If we cannot combine them, our design project may look clumsy. So make sure to select fonts with different categories to complement each other. Here is an example:

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies

Above is an example of improper font-style used. We can truly change both heading and subheading with a different style to make them easier to point out.

The problem is, both the headline font (Surveyor Display Black) and the sub-headline font (Baskerville Bold) are alike. It is because they are classy fonts. It is okay, but some people may ask, “Which one is the headline?” after seeing the disaster combination of our content.

Then, how to fix it? How if we put a Bold sans-Serif as a headline font?

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for DummiesSo much better, isn’t it? And of course, doing such font pairing requires more technical stuff just like:

1. Know how many fonts to use

Looking for the right combination is excellent for choosing countless typeface libraries. Actually, there is no limitation on how many fonts we should use in a project. A senior designer can use ten fonts, and they still can manage to look good before moving further.

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies

Take a look at the example above. The writer simply creates two typefaces using five fonts, they are three Helvetica Neues and two Garamonds. Both Helvetica Neue and Garamond can create good coherence with different personalities. Applying a font is like a clown juggling a ball. If we cannot manage to juggle two or three, then juggling six will be a disaster.

2. Create contrast between fonts

The next is to get the proper size between the header and body text. For instance, it uses a 24-point font for the title and 18-point font for the body text on the left side. It is no different in size, making it look harder for the reader to identify the critical point.

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies

The order in which we read information should be clearly defined by a visual hierarchy in our design. For example, the header on the right side uses 36-point and 18-point as a body text to allow the readers to perceive the point quickly.

3. Adjust font weights

In order to create a clear visual hierarchy is to adjust font weights with different boldness. For instance, we just use Roboto Light as a header and body text. They simply do not fit well together because they are similarly thin.

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies

Or, in the example above, we see that the best combination is achieved by Fredoka One and Raleway. When we mix a lot of personalities, then you have a discordant design. But when we combine an eye-catching one with a neutral or lighter font, we find harmony.

4. Use a distinct font with a similar typeface

Using different fonts from the same typeface can save a lot of time and produce a simple look. We might do well, for example, with Helvetica Black for a header and Helvetica standard for body text.

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies

Do not try to match a similar font like combining Raleway Thin for the header as well as for body text. It is a real definition of a mistake.

5. Avoid discordant combinations

Making a difference is beautiful, but it does not mean to make something awkward. The things we should do are to create visual harmony and to repel the readers’ boredom. Well, combining different fonts are pretty fine since we consider the proportions and height.

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies

For example, Futura with Times New Roman does not work well because there is too much contrast between the widths. The right side is the perfect match. They are Chewi and Gudea. Chewy brings the freshness while Gudea is a readable and clear font with a simple structure that brings a pleasant feeling.

6. Make it simple

If one of our fonts has a very artistic style, avoid pairing it with similar character fonts. Otherwise, our design looks terrible and illegible. Our best choice is to pair a different font with a more neutral or simple one.

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies

In the example above, Monotype Corsiva is combined with the Segoe Print font. They are not perfect combinations, actually. However, the illustration on the right side uses the more neutral Monserat as body text to balance Blackjack font as a header. Look, our design is more pleasant and readable, isn’t it?

7. Mix with the right mood

Another key to pairing fonts is admitting that each font has a personality and a mood. Avoid making a mistake by pairing fonts with an unfit tone. We can see on the left side of an example below, Impact font is bold and blocky while MTF Cool Kid is playful, simplistic, and childlike. Welp, they seem irritating to our eyes when going together.

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies

Let’s have a look at the right side. Flavors and Fresca are precisely a perfect match. Flavors mean childish, while Fresca displays a funny mood and more humble to go with Flavors font.

8. Pair fonts based on interest

Many people hate paragraphs. But how if it is the only way to present a piece of information? The only way is learning to pair fonts based on interest, like headline arrangement in articles. Let’s take a look at how the way LinkedIn publish their article:

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for DummiesLook and feel the visual hierarchy in the headlines and the overall cohesiveness of the experience. By contrasting the fonts, such as a very bold Sans-Serif font, lighter Sans-Serif, and a bold Serif font, we can vary our project’s look. This trick is to integrate the sense of their designs and products.

 

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks 3: More Things to Learn

We should implement all the tips and tricks above with the four essential concepts in typography like kerning, leading, tracking, and hierarchy for enhancing our design experience. As a beginner, we do not need to know everything about them, just enough to give some excellent references for all design projects. Take your time to learn them.

1. Hierarchy

Hierarchy is used to catch the reader’s eyes by showing them where to begin and where to go next about what they read. Indeed, this action needs to use different levels of emphasis.

How do we implement that? Just decide which points we want the reader to notice first, then make them stand out by adjusting the size, width, height, font styles, or difference somehow. Remember to keep it simple.

2. Leading

Leading is the space between lines of the text, or it is also known as line spacing. If you are unsure how many rows to use, making it with the default setting is pretty okay.

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies

The aim of the leading adjustment is to make our text more comfortable to read as possible. We need to avoid too much or too little spacing, as in the example above, it can make the text show unpleasant for the readers.

3. Tracking

Tracking is the whole space between characters. It is popular as character spacing. We can condense or expand our fonts depending on the needs.

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies

In some designs, we might adjust our tracking to create an artistic effect. Tracking can also help you to fix fonts with poorly spaced to put in.

4. Kerning

Kerning is the space in each specific letter. It is different from tracking. Kerning varies the length among the characters in extra width to match them perfectly.

Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies

Making individual letters look properly spaced is tricky. If we use a font with bad kerning, it is better to cut our loss and choose something else. Not all the letters have excellent kerning because each letter has its own distinctions.

Putting it all together

Learning typography needs a high curiosity and the determination to improve it continuously. Once we are interested in typography, we will love to do more and more to meet the perfection in every inch of our projects. In the end, well-crafted typography can make a design extraordinary.

What do you think about this Font Pairing Tips and Tricks for Dummies article? We wish you have fun learning about typography from the basics. If this write-up looks enjoyable, be sure to check out the rest of our insightful articles here.

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