Wish there were a trick to font pairing?
How about one simple rule that will work for pretty much every project you design?
Let’s say you’re making a graphic for your latest blog post. You might know some of the basics for choosing fonts, like:
- Don’t use 20 fonts in one design (please – too much to take in)
- Don’t use Comic Sans (begging you – way overused)
- Never type the numbers 1 and 3 next to each other (kidding! Maybe.)
But even though you’re not doing all the “wrong” things, your graphics don’t look “right” to you, because of the fonts. You feel like you don’t know exactly what to look for, so you do your best and move on to other projects. Someday you’ll hire a Design VA, and then your graphics will look good.
Want to fix that TODAY?
There is one simple trick to font pairing that I use all the time. Ready?
You may want to sit down for this.
My one simple trick to font pairing:
Use one fancy font and one simple font
Of course there’s more to the art of font pairing, but this is enough to start with – seriously.
If you were expecting something more complicated, I can point you to a few uppity design blogs.
But if “do this because it works” is more your style, grab a cup of coffee. Your design life is about to get easier.
Why this font pairing trick works
In most blog post graphics, you have two types of text: Title & Subtitle.
You might have a really long title that you break up into two sections:
- Title: 8 Healthy Breakfast Ideas
- Subtitle: for weekday mornings
Or you might use the subtitle to explain the main title:
- Title: Inspiring Spaces
- Subtitle: A home office tour of 14 bloggers
Two sections = two fonts. Two fonts to play off of each other, grab your reader’s attention, and communicate a clear message that makes someone want to read your post.
Well, actually there’s not.
The first section (the title) is the star. Make it fancy.
The second section (the subtitle) is the star’s common-sense BFF. Make it simple.
See this font pairing trick in action:
Tips to choose the Fancy Font
1 – Choose the fancy font first
The fancy font is the star of your design.
If you use the same fonts throughout your blog post graphics (and you should), your readers will begin to see your fancy font and think of you.
Choose a font with personality!
BTW, did you know fonts have personalities? They do! Whimsical, formal, elegant, artsy, corporate…
This is where you can have some fun. Your fonts should match both you and your topic.
After all, your personality is as much a part of your blog as the topic you write about.
Are you quirky? Imperfect? Cutting edge? Down-to-earth?
Is your topic business? Fashion? Parenting? Photography?
Two parenting blogs could have wildly different personalities because they’re written by two different people.
But some guidelines still hold: a blog exclusively about cutting-edge tech would likely have a title font that is more bold and modern. That same font could look out of place on a blog about kid-friendly recipes.
Check out these examples of fancy fonts:
2 – Keep it legible!
Don’t make the mistake of assuming all fonts are easy to read.
A huge trend right now is fonts that are hand-lettered scripts. They’re flowy and natural, with swooshes and curls. Some of them are absolutely stunning. And some of them are nearly impossible to read.
Before you settle on your title font, type out a few trial titles. Ask a couple people just how easy they are to read.
When a possible reader is scrolling through Pinterest, you don’t want to make them work to read your title!
3 – Consider a purchased font
There are some fabulous free fonts out there – and everyone has access to them.
It’s kind of like three people all wearing the same dress to a big party. Not the worst thing that could happen, but you’d really prefer NOT to be part of the evening’s running joke about triplets.
With that in mind, consider purchasing a font (with a commercial license) to use as your fancy font. The odds of seeing that same font everywhere go down considerably.
BONUS: The quality of purchased fonts is typically far better than free fonts. Look for a font with extras, like glyphs (alternate characters you can access in Photoshop & InDesign).
My main source of affordable, fabulous fonts? Creative Market.
Tips to choose the Simple Font
1 – Make the simple font smaller than the fancy font
The simple font plays a supporting role to the fancy font. This is your star’s common-sense BFF. Not quite as flashy, but oh-so-essential.
Your simple font will probably look a little boring next to your fancy font. That’s ok! You don’t want your subtitle to take all the attention away from your main title.
You show the difference between the two fonts by your font CHOICE, but also by the font SIZE. Make your fancy font larger, and your simple font smaller.
You’ve seen graphics (and may have even used some) that use several fancy fonts. They’re a little chaotic! All of the fonts compete for your attention, and your eye doesn’t know where to look first. A simple, smaller font is a wonderful visual break.
Be kind to your reader’s eyes.
In these three examples, the star and the supporting role are clear:
TIP: When you do a list post “X Ideas for Whatever”, try putting the number in your simple font, but make it really big like your fancy font. Like “18 Travel Tips” in the above example. It’s a fun way to play with your fonts.
2 – Use a serif or a sans-serif
The simplest fonts in all of existence are a plain ol’ serif or sans-serif.
You see see one of these two types of fonts used in body copy (the main text of an article). The reason why is that they are easy to read.
What’s the difference between a serif & a sans-serif?
- Serif font – has little tags, called “serifs” on each letter.
- Sans-serif font – no serifs
See the graphic below for an example of each.
A serif font is often seen as more traditional, and a sans-serif as more modern. That’s not always the case, though, and you’re welcome to go against type. (Go against “type”! Get it? Ha!)
If you want the easiest combination to complement your fancy font, choose a serif or a sans serif. Because they are so simple and so easy on the eye, they’ll match almost any fancy font.
See a serif & sans-serif font below:
- SERIF: “Create a spa at home” (see the little tags on each letter?)
- SANS-SERIF: “21 tips for the perfect party”
3 – Look for different styles in the same font family
Often, one font will have several different styles. Bold, regular, thin, italic, condensed…
When you install a new font, you might see several files for the same font – those are all different styles.
When you’re choosing a simple font, look at all the styles in that family. You might have bolder or lighter versions (called “weights”) of the same font.
Here’s an example of one simple font in two different weights:
The bottom example is regular weight. The top one is the same font, but the light version.
You end up with two totally different looks.
Here’s an example of the look you get when you italicize a font:
Keep your options open!
Once you’ve selected your fancy font, test drive it with a serif and a sans serif, bold, light, italic…
Just don’t get in your own head – play, don’t stress!
If you find yourself spending too long choosing your two fonts, just pick a fancy and a simple and move on! Try them out for a few months, see how it works.
Font pairing doesn’t have to be a difficult concept reserved for advanced designers. Remember our one simple trick, and you are well on your way to making graphics as awesome as the content you write.
BONUS TIP: To develop your “eye for design,” start a collection of graphics you see with good font pairing. A private board on Pinterest works well for this. Note what works (and what doesn’t), and you’ll find yourself improving in your own designs.
RELATED POST: 3 Steps to a Blog Post Graphic Perfect for Pinterest
Design Assets I Used:
- Fancy fonts
- Simple fonts
- For weekday mornings: Caviar Dreams
- For weekend road trips: Amorie Modella
- 7-day clutter busting routine: Quicksand
- Create a spa at home: ChanticleerRoman
- 21 tips for the perfect party: Josefin Sans
- Everything you need to know: Bebas Neue (regular)
- DIY tips for professional nails: Bebas Neue (light)
- A home office tour of 14 bloggers: Candela (book italic)
- The ultimate flea market guide: Crimson (italic)