5 Tips for Choosing and Pairing Fonts

Good font selection can take almost any design and bring it up three levels. Yet to many, this can be daunting. There are so many fonts to choose from! And with the advent of the computer, the number of fonts has exploded.

3. Mix Serif with Sans Serif

This is my favorite approach — using a serif font (one with flourishes at the end of strokes like Times New Roman) with a san serif font (typeface without any stroke embellishments like Helvetica). You can use either style font as the headline or the text. This works well due to the contrast of the two fonts. But remember the feeling of the fonts still needs to be in harmony. If the fonts’ feelings are too different, they’ll clash.

If you choose two fonts that are the same — serif/serif or san serif/san serif — and they are too similar, they’ll fight each other. You need to ask yourself why you’re mixing two different font families instead of just using the same font family. See the sample below.

Mixed serifs4. Contrast Font Weights and Size

Contrast is a good thing in type design. Using a font family’s different weights and font size are the easiest ways to create contrast. Selecting fonts with a large family of font styles makes this much easier. The samples below use Rotis Sans Serif and Garamond. Notice how using fonts with dramatic weight differences creates harmony and a clear hierarchy. This is one of the easiest ways to create good typography with limited type knowledge.

Contrasting Font Weights5. Create Distinct Roles to Each Font

Good type design relies heavily on consistency. One of the easiest ways to be consistent — assign a specific role to each font in your design. For example you can assign headlines your bold san serif font, subheads with a medium weight san serif and body text with a light serif font. See the sample below how this might work.

Distinct fontsIf You’d Like to Learn More

I could write many more articles on the use of type. But if you follow these basic points, you’ll improve your presentations, proposals and flyers.

If you’d like to learn even more, here’s a link that gives you access to many tutorials specifically about typography: 82 top-quality typography tutorials. I can also recommend Lynda.com, a wonderful video training site with titles like: The 33 Laws of Typography, Foundations of Typography: Choosing and Combining Typefaces and Foundations of Typography.

Lastly, if you want to improve your typographic designs simply look; look at everything. But while looking, keep these basic principles in mind and ask yourself “Why do I like this?” Then start to see the structure behind the design.

Author: Patrick Fultz

Patrick Fultz is the President/CCO of DM Creative Group, a creative marketing firm producing work across all media. He’s an art-side creative, marketing strategist, designer and lover of all things type. His credentials include a degree from Parsons School of Design with 15 years of teaching at his alma mater, over 40 industry creative awards, and he previously served as President of the John Caples International Awards. Always an innovator, Fultz was credited with creating the first 4-color variable data direct mail piece ever produced. He continues to look for innovative ways to tap the powerful synergy of direct mail, the web, digital and social media.

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