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The Big Book of Font Combinations

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The Big Book of Font Combinations

The Big Book of Font Combinations

© Douglas Bonneville
While the Font Combinations iPhone app put hundreds of font combinations at your fingertips, The Big Book of Font Combinations puts that information (and more) onto the desktops of anyone who can read a PDF file. This isn't a picture book full of pretty fonts. In fact, some pairings are less than pretty. At one point the author describes it as "a workbook." I agree. If you read the introduction carefully (see the FAQ) you'll get a feel for how to really use The Big Book of Font Combinations in your work. It can speed up the mixing and matching of fonts and help you avoid less than ideal combinations.

Presentation of Font Combinations

Before you start questioning the inclusion/exclusion of certain fonts (Times New Roman, really?) or thinking, "Well I can print out font sample sheets with my software" or complaining that "I don't have a lot of those fonts and can't afford to buy them so it won't do me any good" read the FAQ / book description. It does a great job of explaining how and why to use The Big Book of Font Combinations. I can't really say it better and I agree with what's written there.

What I can tell you is how it improves on the mix-n-match features of the Font Combinations iPhone app (which I give high marks on its own). Yes, the iPhone app does have more fonts, but it doesn't have as detailed a presentation.

Page layout for font combination of Formatta / Palatino in The Big Book of Font Combinations

Page layout for font combination of Formata / Palatino.

© Douglas Bonneville
  • With the eBook you get a chapter devoted to each of dozens of classic typefaces. The first page of a chapter pairs the typeface with itself for headlines and body text. Subsequent pages in the chapter pair it with several other faces.

  • Each page shows you more than just a headline and block of text. You can see the fonts in reversed text, as drop caps, in bullet lists, in normal, bold, and italics, and in a variety of sizes.

  • When you reach page 363 you'll find that the last few typefaces are loners. These are popular typefaces that simply don't play as nice with others (which doesn't mean they are bad typefaces). Each page shows the same layout as the paired typefaces but with only a single typeface.

eBook Features

The Big Book of Font Combinations in PDF (ePub and other eBook reader formats coming soon) has a clickable TOC and is searchable. The type is vector so you can zoom in for a close up look at the fonts with no loss of clarity. By zooming in close you can really get to know the varied shapes of the letterforms.

Another extra you get in the eBook is a copy of "29 principles for making great font combinations."

One of the additions to the book that I'd like to see would be a page at the end of each chapter that listed (and perhaps displayed a short sample of) alternatives / lookalikes for each of the main classic fonts presented in the book. Not an exhaustive list, but a few of the best matches for a font to give designers a few more options without adding dozens of more pages of font combinations to the book (which would be nice too).

Bottom Line

Minion at 6400% zoom in The Big Book of Font Combinations

Minion at 6400% zoom.

© Douglas Bonneville
Currently The Big Book of Font Combinations is available for $24.95. At first I thought that might be a little steep. In print form, it would be. In electronic form, the clickability, searchability, and the super zoom features make it more valuable than a print book so I've rethought my position on the cost.

If you want to get out of the rut of using the same font combinations over and over; If you want to save time and frustration when trying to find a good pair of fonts for a project; If you are interested in typography and want to get up close and personal with some classic fonts; The Big Book of Font Combinations may be just the kind of tool you need.

The PDF version was purchased by the reviewer.
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