nt-logo-tagline-dark

It’s easy to lose hours working on a web design, changing font after font without ever coming up with something that feels right.

Like many other aspects of web design, typography has specific rules to make the font pairing process a little bit easier. 

font pairing

Font Pairing Tips 

Use different toned fonts. 

Writing expresses emotions, and the letterforms used to display text also can influence perception. For example, some fonts convey a stern and businesslike tone, while some are perceived as fun, informal, and upbeat. 
 
When picking a font pairing, consider the spirit of what or who your website will represent. A fun, bubbly typeface might be great for a toy company but not so much for a doctor’s office or law firm. On the other hand, a web design that conveys a lighthearted feel will not be reputable or respected among serious competitors. 
 
One of the most significant considerations is the typography you will use for the headers and body. Headings give you a good amount of freedom for using stylized fonts because of their larger scale. Body copy, on the other hand, will need a font that is okay for the eyes in smaller text sizes.
 
Although there is a time and a place for every font, don’t be scared to use typography that opposes your tone; sometimes the juxtaposition can make your point pop. 
 

Create just enough contrast 

Font pairs should always be noticeably different; you want distinct combinations that are different visually but still complement each other. 
 
For example, a calligraphy cursive-looking header will look out of place paired with a classic font like Arial. Instead, pair a subtly playful font with a more neutral one that compliments it. 
 

Limit typefaces to three or less 

Most designs will have one typeface for the heading and another for the body. There could also be places where you use more stylized typography for decorative and aesthetic purposes. Although there are tons of free typefaces out in the world, avoid temptation and limit yourself to three typefaces for a website. 
 
Using a typeface superfamily is a popular choice among designers. A superfamily is composed of typefaces that are all related. They might contain stylistic variations like light to heavyweight, italics, serif and sans serif, and other variations. Superfamilies are great because they take out all the guesswork of having to find complementary fonts because they were already designed with compatibility in mind. 
 

Use font pairing to communicate visual hierarchy. 

You can use different fonts and typography to send visual cues about the importance of different sections. Headlines usually and should pack the heaviest visual power, followed by subheadings and body. Your font combinations can give your content an obvious structure. 
Font can imply order.
This one is pretty simple to understand. The bigger the typeface, the higher priority of the content. Descending font sizes represent the hierarchy of content. All uppercase letters can have the same effect and make relevant elements like CTAs stand out. But always use all caps in moderation; nobody wants to be yelled at, especially by a website. 
Experiment with weight 
A heavier text weight can indicate more importance, while a lighter text weight represents a lower place in the content hierarchy. You can do a ton of different things with one typeface by changing its weight. 
Change font colors
While you should never really fill your page with a plethora of clashing colors, changing the shades of text can make certain words stand out. Lighter and darker shades can create nice contrasts, with lighter shades implying something less important and darker shades indicating that text should be read first. Make sure that no colors or shades get lost in the background. 

Conclusion

Web design has many different levels and aspects, and you should always approach your font pairing and typography with the same level of consideration you apply when making other important web design decisions. The tone, style, and legibility are all huge aspects of user experience-based web design. Find the fonts that speak to your personality and provide your visitors the best experience while they view your content. 
 
A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.

Stay up to date with our insights by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.