Author:

Douglas Bonneville is a professional graphic designer and developer who runs the BonFX graphic design and typography blog. Active since 1992, he is also author of The Big Book of Font Combinations and developer of the Font Combinations App. He loves typography, CMS, jQuery, HTML5, and anything that is easy to automate. You might catch him hunched over his sketchbook at lunch on any given day, or find him up late at night writing songs on his acoustic guitar, getting ready for the next coffee house gig.

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How to Choose a Typeface

Choosing a typeface can be tricky. The beauty and complexity of type, combined with an inexhaustible supply of options to evaluate, can make your head spin. But don't be baffled — and don't despair. While there are no easy-to-follow rules on how best to choose a typeface, there are many tried-and-true principles you can quickly learn and apply to make an appropriate typeface choice. If you work systematically through the options below, you'll have a winning typeface choice in no time. Let's get started.

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The first thing you have to do in order to choose a typeface is form a strong impression in your mind about how you want your audience to react to the text. This is your goal, and it will guide the process. You might provide this impression, or it might be dictated to you by your client, or it may be determined by your audience.

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Best Practices of Combining Typefaces

Creating great typeface combinations is an art, not a science. Indeed, the beauty of typography has no borders. While there are no absolute rules to follow, it is crucial that you understand and apply some best practices when combining fonts in a design. When used with diligence and attention, these principles will always yield suitable results. Today we will take a close look at some the best practices for combining typefaces — as well as some blunders to avoid.

Combine a serif with a sans serif

By far the most popular principle for creating typeface combinations is to pair a sans serif header typeface with a serif body typeface. This is a classic combination, and it's almost impossible to get wrong.

In the examples above — a typical article layout — we have Trade Gothic Bold No.2 paired with Bell Gothic on the left side. They are both sans serif typefaces. However, they have very different personalities. A good rule of thumb, when it comes to header and body copy design problems, is not to create undue attention to the personality of each font. Trade Gothic is arguably a no-nonsense typeface. Bell Gothic, on the other hand, is much more dynamic and outspoken.

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