How To | 5 Tips For Pairing Type


Back in June, we guest posted over at Heart + Habit for the Lazy Girl's Guide to Pairing Type while Brandy and her family were on vacation. Here's what we had to say about pairing type. Enjoy!

Creating a typographic palette can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some simple rules for pairing type. Once you've got these 5 tips down, you can bend the rules! When all else fails keep things simple and classic. Have fun!

  1. Simple is Best
    A good rule to live by, in almost any situation, and particularly when pairing typefaces is to keep it simple. Or, don't use too many different typefaces. Try to keep your choices to 2-3 typefaces and things will stay more cohesive. Combined with the rules below (and it's okay to break the rules once you practice them), you'll have it down soon. Shown here - Bebas Neue + Playfair Display.

    In Summary: Combine or pair 2-3 typefaces at most.
  2. We Are Family
    One of the simplest techniques for successful pairing is to combine fonts that belong to the same typeface. Typeface families include a set of varying weights (light vs. bold), widths (regular vs. condensed) and styles, and even different type classes (sans serif and serif). This provides harmony and hierarchy, just like a real family. They have similar characteristics (or DNA) that makes pairing a breeze. You can often assign roles to different members of the family (display, headings, subheads, body copy) so every font pulls their weight as a team. Shown here - Archer.

    In Summary: Combine different fonts (weights and styles) from the same family. Examples: bold + light, regular + italic, regular + condensed. 
  3. Contrast is Key
    Many successful pairs, feature contrast. Just like so many things in life! For example, a serif typeface goes well with a sans serif typeface. Or, if you have a typeface with a strong, outgoing personality, combining it with something neutral and reserved is the solution. Shown here - Playfair Display + Raleway.

    In Summary: Opposites attract! Think, large + small, light + dark, round + sharp, script + neutral. You get the idea.
  4. In the Complimentary Mood
    Does your typeface choice just scream fun? Then pair it with a font that has a complimentary, but cheeky mood. Distant, but complimentary moods will give your design energy. Similar moods just emphasize that feeling you're going for. Shown here - Cubano + Lobster.

    In Summary: Choose a mood and find typefaces that are complimentary. They can contrast or be similar, but make sure they contribute to the same feeling. 
  5. Do the Time Warp
    Do you have a piece that's calling for type from a specific time era? Choose a typeface from that era and pair it with similar typefaces from the same historical period. This will give your piece richness a unique edge. For example, Art Deco, 60s Mod, 70s Retro, Nineteenth Century. Just make sure you're being accurate! You wouldn't want to mix eras (styles). Shown here - Metropolis 1920 + Didot.

    In Summary: Pair type from the same historical era while applying the rules above. Do your research!

With these 5 rules in mind, I hope you are excited about pairing your typefaces and creating endless (and oh so, enticing) combinations. Your pairings will create consistency and visual interest that's all your own style. Thanks for reading!