When you’re starting a design or branding project, typography is one of the very first decisions you have to make. You’ve got to find the thin line between serious and stodgy, friendly and cutesy, modern and vintage, so you can choose the right fonts to communicate your identity and values. Most projects will require a font pairing of two or more fonts—headlines and body copy, for example—and finding the perfect combination is a tricky, intuitive art.
Here, we’ll take a look at some successful font pairings in order to learn what works and help you feel more confident in your next font combination.
What makes a good font pairing?
A strong font pairing is like a good relationship. The fonts need to share some basic commonalities, while also preserving their sense of individuality. You’ll want to find two fonts that complement each other but also provide that push and pull of contrast.
Great font pairings start by understanding the different families of type (serif, slab, sans serif, script, and handwritten) well enough to combine them in a powerful way.
A strong font pairing is like a good relationship. The fonts need to share some basic commonalities, while also preserving their sense of individuality.
Combining two different fonts from the same family generally won’t provide any contrast and the design is likely to feel boring or weak. But different weights of the same font can be used in harmony—like a sans serif in a demi-bold paired with a light italic. A combination like this will have a subtler effect than one that utilizes two totally different fonts.
In any good font pairing, there should only be one font with a lot of “personality.” So, don’t go overboard. If your logo uses a beautiful handwriting font, stick to something classic and clean for your second one. Two wildly interesting fonts will feel disconnected and out of sync with one another.
Finally, pay attention to legibility. A classic serif or clean sans serif can both work for long paragraphs of text, while a heavy sans serif will be better suited for headlines.
15 beautiful font pairings for your next design
1. Clarendon + League Gothic
These two classic workhorses are a perfect pair. Clarendon brings a literary flair, while League Gothic’s thick weight holds things down.
Get Clarendon | Get League Gothic
2. Quando + Judson
This is a good reminder that fonts don’t have to be polar opposites to combine well. Quando and Judson are both serifs with a good dose of character and feminine charm.
Also long as one is dominant (Quando is heavier, with more exaggerated serifs), the hierarchy will be clear and the combination will be successful.
Get Quando | Get League Gothic
3. Allan + Lato
While Allan brings the personality and throwback spirit of hand-painted signs, Lato keeps things modern in this fresh pairing.
4. Vidaloka + Roboto
While we want to stress legibility when you’re designing with user experience in mind, that doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. Vidaloka brings just a touch of playful vibes with its curled serifs. Pair it with a more staid body font like Roboto to balance the tone just right.
5. Merriweather and 6. Quattrocento
Here are two examples of what are sometimes referred to as “superfamilies. Fonts like Merriweather and Quattrocentro are fonts that have enough weights and styles (usually at least a serif and a sans version) that you can formulate a stunning font combination without having to look for another font.
Because they’re in the same family and share some very basic structural elements, they’ll combine beautifully with very little effort on your part.
Get Merriweather | Get Quattrocentro
7. Pacifico + Josefin Sans
These two fonts are well-known and well-loved. And with good reason. Pacifico brings the fun with its loopy script characters, while Josefin Sans plays a supportive role with light and clean lines.
Look to combinations like this (a script and a light, wide serif) to bring both character and readability to logo designs.
Get Pacifico | Get Josefin Sans
8. Oswald + Raleway
Oswald and Raleway are far and away two of the Internet’s favorite workhorse sans-serifs. Raleway brings a tiny note of sophistication to the pairing, with many letters (like L and K) ending in elegant feet.
9. Playfair + Cormorant Garamond
Fat serifs are having a moment in 2019, and Playfair is a gorgeous refined type that’s perfectly on-trend. When pairing them, consider classic light serifs in the Garamond or Caslon families.
Get Playfair | Get Cormorant Garamond
10. Rockwell + Bembo
Rockwell and Bembo are another absolute classic combination. Rockwell brings old school vibes to the party with its heavy slab structure, while Bembo brings a refinement and class that explains why it’s been around for over 500 years.
11. Old Standard + Open Sans
While Open Sans will provide a legible reading experience for any design, we especially like it paired with a modern serif like Old Standard, which evokes an old school book or primer, creating a particularly nice tension.
Get Old Standard | Get Open Sans
12. Droid Serif Mono + Montserrat
This combination is so perfectly 2019 we can barely stand it. The trendy serif is balanced by a well-spaced Droid Serif Mono.
Get Monserrat | Get Droid Sans Mono
13. Sanchez Nova + Proxima Nova
This font pairing of Sanchez Nova and Proxima Nova captures perfectly that tension of new and old.
Get Sanchez Nova | Get Proxima Nova
14. Bebas + Source Sans
Bebas is one of the strongest display faces on the market right now. It never looks bad, and it pairs easily with serifs and other sans serifs alike. We like it with the open and clear style of Source Sans.
Get Bebas | Get Source Sans
15. Brandon Grotesque + Anonymous Pro
Anonymous Pro is a wonderful programming inspired font and pairs perfectly with Brandon Grotesque’s clean geometric style.
Get Brandon Grotesque | Get Anonymous Pro
Cheers to the perfect font pairing!
Like any aspect of design, font pairing is a little bit of art and little bit of science. If you understand type families, hierarchy and which font is dominant in your design, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a pleasing font combination. But never be afraid to push the boat out and try something new. Two fonts you never expected to combine well might be just the thing to break your design wide open!
Now that you’ve seen how fonts can work together to bring strength and depth to a composition, you can make sure the fonts in your next design are truly on point.