Mixing and matching fonts can be a daunting task. Recently, forum member and co-host phoenix posted a link to one designer's top font combinations. In 19 Fonts in 19 Top Combinations, Douglas Bonneville creates a nice list of examples using various combinations of the 19 top fonts used by designers. He even supplies a PDF chart.
Designer Font Combinations
Some of the combinations by Bonneville include Helvetica with Garamond, Universe (Bold) with Minion, and Franklin Gothic (Demi) with Baskerville. A lot of classic fonts there. I haven't studied the whole list in detail but it seems that most if not all the examples pair a serif with a sans serif -- one of those tried-and-true methods of mixing and matching fonts.
Also see my review of: The Big Book of Font Combinations
by Douglas Bonneville
Compare Bonneville's 19 match-ups with the Type Palettes of Chuck Green. You'll find fewer examples but he does a nice job of showing more than just a headline and body combo. These palettes include fonts for subheads and captions too.
None of these pairings tickle your fancy? Daniel Will-Harris' Esperfonto is a classic tool. Playing around with it gives you many options for matching the fonts to the feeling or impression you want to convey. And The Craft Junkie offers up her own Samples of Good Font Combinations, although some may be best suited to scrapbooking or to casual publications. And then there's the Mixing Typefaces Cheatsheet (PDF) found via InspirationBit. It gives you 20-something fonts for display and text use and tells you whether any certain pair is a good match, possibly OK, or a pairing to avoid.
Still not sure? In a 2007 Layers Magazine article on Choosing Type Combinations, Robin Williams emphasizes that what we're doing when combining fonts is creating contrast. The article goes over some of the basics of choosing the right fonts. So, what's your secret to combining fonts?
Using Fonts and Finding Fonts That Go Together
- Use Fewer Fonts - avoid conflicts between fonts by using fewer fonts.
- Create Single Typeface Documents - typeface families work well together and help you avoid font overload.
- Contrast With Type - sometimes things that are very different work much better together.
- How to Choose Fonts for Headlines - you can get more creative with headlines but you still want them readable.
- How to Choose Body Text Fonts - readability is the most important part of finding fonts for body text.
- Best Fonts for Print - offers general and specific advice on choosing fonts for use in print and arranging text.
Updated March 2011
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