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Font Pairing Myths

June 15, 2020

It's time to be creative and to make your own rules!

Fonts are used everywhere such as in headlines or unique pairings in your next projects. To inspire you to think outside the box, we spoke to Fernando Mello from the Monotype studio and wanted to share what we learned about his views on Font Pairings.

Typefaces play an important role in the graphic design and typography world. They are the basic elements which bring meaning to content, and choosing different fonts for a project which pair well has always been one of the greatest challenges in graphic design.

Recommendations are rightly often based around the idea of contrasting different fonts rather than conflicting them – but what exactly defines a working contrast of two typefaces?

 There aren’t, and shouldn’t be strong rules or dogmas in design, and there is always a potential to bring your own visual preferences to play.

The number of different fonts we have at our disposal and the possibilities of matching them is countless, and the initial confusion over which fonts to select is only heightened by this fact. It is more important to look carefully at the type designs you are selecting, study their details in depth and make your own judgement towards good combinations of fonts for your own purposes, rather than to follow any recipes.

The truth is, rules are only there to be broken! Scroll down to see Fernando Mello take on some of the myths and look at our selection of fonts on sale and start making your own rules.

Myth 1: You shouldn’t use various font designs in the same layout

Often designers say that mixing different typefaces in the same design is a terrible mistake. This may be true in some cases but actually it depends.

In the example above we have 4 different typefaces working well together in a coherent hierarchy. FS Aldrin in the main heading, FS Pimlico for the large numbers, FS Dillon for the sections, and FS Silas Slab for the body text. They work well together because each one is used for a different section of the piece.

Myth 2: Try to use the same type family throughout your design

Using the same family throughout your whole design is of course possible and often works well, but can rule out potential pairs.

In the example above FS Silas Sans and FS Silas Slab are used throughout the layout above making use of its different weights and variants, creating a concise hierarchy consisting of running text set in the slab version, and sub-heads and titles in the sans version.

Myth 3: Don’t use two very similar font designs together

Another common belief and an apparently obvious rule of thumb, is that mixing two very similar type designs in the same layout is a primary error, as the reader might notice the slight differences and think it is a mistake.

The layout above shows FS Albert Narrow for titles and FS Me for the main text. FS Me was selected for its accessible characteristics, but as it doesn’t have a narrow version, FS Albert Narrow was brought in for the titles. Both families follow a similar structure and skeleton, but they do not conflict when used together.

Inspiration Gallery: Pairings by Simon Lamb

Designer Simon Lamb selected some of his favorites from this sale to come up with his own pairings. Fonts used are as follows: from the left to right and top to bottom - Applied Sans, Blacker Sans, Magdelin, Masiva, Blom, Applied Sans, Anaphora, Cream, Joanna Sans Nova, Mohr, Bunday Sans, Bunday Slab, Applied Sans, Ainslie Sans.

Macklin, Wakerobin, Morandi and Applied Sans are trademarks of Monotype Imaging Inc. and may be registered in certain jurisdictions. Joanna Sans Nova is a trademark of The Monotype Corporation registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain jurisdictions. Scala is a trademark of Monotype GmbH registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions. FF is a trademark of Monotype GmbH registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions. PMN Caecilia Sans is a trademark of Monotype Imaging Inc. registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions. FS Aldrin, FS Pimlico, FS Dillon, FS Silas Slab, FS Brabo, FS Lucas, FS Silas Sans, FS Albert, FS Me, FS Millbank, FS Sally a registered trademark of Fontsmith. Bunday Sans, Bunday Slab are trademarks of Buntype.