Finding your ideal type

Valentines Day is here! To celebrate, we thought we’d share our wisdom and help you find your ideal type – quite literally.

Anyone who is as addicted to love-island as our accounts team will know the importance of the question: ‘What’s your type on paper?’ ­In this post, we’ll be looking at your type on paper… and also in your branding, digital and motion work.

Why can font pairings be beneficial?

Aside from this article giving me the perfect excuse to write some truly horrific valentines-based puns, it is also a great opportunity to offer both designers and non-designers alike some typography tips.

I am all for a strong, independent typeface but sometimes even they can benefit from a better half. The aim of a secondary typeface is to complement and support the primary type. These secondary typefaces or styles can be an effective way of encouraging more flexibility and creativity with how content is visually delivered:

Changing context – If we need to display different forms of copy or data alongside each other, utilising a secondary typeface can help establish changes in content.

Establishing different personalities/tones of voice ­­– Using multiple fonts can also be a good way to establish different tones of voice. It can even help convey different moods/personalities of a brand, for example if a brand’s primary typeface is too corporate, pairing it with a more friendly typeface can help enhance the approachability and accessibility of a brand.

Increasing style flexibility – It might be that the primary typeface has limited weights or styles, or in some cases may not include certain special characters. Introducing a secondary typeface can help broaden potential typographic styles on offer.

What makes the perfect font pair?

When it comes to graphic design, the right typography can be make or break. Most projects will always require a font pairing of two or more fonts and therefore finding the perfect balance is important.

When it comes to pairing fonts the key thing to remember is ‘contrast not conflict’. Typefaces must be different enough that a visual hierarchy can be built, but not TOO visually different that they clash.

“A strong font pairing is like a good relationship.The fonts need to share some basic commonalities, while also preserving their sense of individuality.”

Meg Reid

1) Opposites attract

The most common form of font pairing is between a Serif and Sans Serif font. The best way to tell the two apart is that Serif fonts have decorative ‘feet’ as opposed to Sans Serif fonts which are usually made up of simple, clean lines. A classic example of a Serif font is Times Roman and an example of a Sans Serif font is Helvetica.

This pairing works well because there is high contrast between the two fonts which can help create two distinct styles.

2) When two (or more) become one

Now this slightly disagrees with my last point, but don’t be afraid to use a singular typeface across your whole brand. A font ‘superfamily’ is a large set of cohesive typefaces that have been specifically designed to sit alongside each other, which can be a sure way to create a great font pairing.

For example Mr Eaves Sans (a sans serif) and Mrs Eaves (a serif) are designed in a similar style which allows them to be a compatible pairing (if the name didn’t give it away already).

Superfamilies such as these can prove extremely valuable for editorial design, where sans and serifs fonts may need to work with one another rather than in contrast.

3) Miss Independent

Pairing multiple typefaces in a single design isn’t always necessary. A design that uses a single typeface with various weights, colours or scale can be used to create enough visual distinction whilst still being balanced.

It’s worth noting that if a singular typeface is used, specific styles should be assigned to distinguish between each heading, subheading and body copy in order to create consistency across all typographic application.

Red Flags to watch out for:

“You’re so hard to read!”
Whilst considering your type pairings it is important to keep legibility at the back of your mind. Is each font legible and easy to read when used both alone and when paired together?

“I think there’s something missing.”
Before choosing your typefaces, check that all the letters and special characters you need come with it. Another super important detail that everyone forgets is to check the licenses, there is nothing worse than starting a project and the font’s license is expiring!

“I’m just not that into you.”
Although there are certain design guidelines to help create the perfect pairing, there will be some fonts that just simply won’t look good together – the aesthetic compatibility of each pairing is ultimately down to you!

Our power couples:

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Annie – Blenny Black & Eskorte Latin Regular

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Gareth – Harbor & Trade Gothic

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Jon – Circular & Circe

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Flossie – Didot & Proxima Nova

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Emily – Playfair Display & Source Sans Pro

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Scott – Bebas Neue & Montserrat

Instead of tinder-style swiping your way through hundreds of potential matches click here to generate your own compatible font pairs.