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Jacci Howard Bear

Fonts That Go Together

By October 20, 2009

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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

Updated March 2011

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October 23, 2009 at 11:59 am
(1) Terence Boylen says:

For our newspaper I have set the headline as Myriad Pro/Bold Condensed with a subheading or Adobe Caslon Pro, Bold Italics, and the body copy as Minion Pro, 9.45 and aligned to a 12pt grid. I think it works well. The alternate headline text is Chapparral Pro, bold, x-scaled to 80%.

October 23, 2009 at 1:22 pm
(2) Douglas Bonneville says:

Hi Terence. Wouldn’t it perhaps look just a touch more cohesive wif you went with either Caslon or Minion for subheading and body? They are already so close. Is there something distinctive about the Caslon italic you really want over a similar Minion italic?


February 9, 2014 at 10:22 am
(3) Hill says:

You should never combine two serif faces or two sans serif faces. One of each.

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