Pairing typography is a lot like wine tasting: making educated and inspired choices where the history, personality and unique details of each flavour bring out the best of its complement, creating an experience worth savouring.
Here are 3 quick steps to help give you some things to think about when pairing typography.
Step 1: Consider Classifications.
Know your classifications when it comes to pairing typefaces. Take the time to study things like humanist, grotesque and geometric type classifications. The generic pairing is typically a serif and sans serif. More unique pairs will come by mixing typefaces from two different classifications. Try not to pair two within the same class.
Step 2: Blend Characteristics.
Compare the x-height and character width of both of the typefaces. If they are relatively close, they will be a good fit, and easier to use next to one another for hierarchy and in running copy.
Step 3: Find the Balance in the Details.
Seek similarities in anatomy and stress, achieving harmony with character details make all the difference. If one typeface has more character, then let the second one take a backseat and be a bit more generic.
Take a look at how I’m pairing typography on my own website. As of right now, (things may change at a later date) I’m using Futura for my headings and Helvetica for my body copy. Futura is a geometric sans serif, while Helvetica is a humanist san serif. For my <h1> tags I’m using the Futura extra bold weight, whereas for my <h2> tags I’m using the medium condensed weight. Both the extra bold and condensed weights have character that contrasts and balances well with the regular Helvetica I’m using for body copy.
Follow these three steps and you should be able to narrow down possible fonts that work beautifully and taste well together.
Check out TypeEd for more great learning resources on typography. It’s where I go.
Keep on typesetting deliciously!
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