font types

What are best practices for choosing and pairing fonts?

April 17, 2015 Stacy Adams

Is your user putting in a lot of effort to read your type? Is the type on your website legible? Is there a way to know what two fonts will work together?

So, to marginalize and label, building a palette is the essential ingredient. Not only is the process intuitive, it allows expansion of typographic duet to three or four vocals.


• Legibility

For attracting users to your type, the typographic design has to be legible. If your reader has to put in a lot of effort and is more consumed in deciphering the type instead of prose content, then you need to revisit your design and typeface. Legibility is based on the ease with which on letter can be told from the other. We don’t read by recognizing one letter at a time, but by recognizing the shapes of whole words and phrases. Fonts with thick and thin strokes reduce legibility. Text type has a greater need for it than display type. Spacing is detrimental to types’ legibility, as type gets smaller the spaces must be increased in accordance.


• Scalability

Evident from the name, scalability of a font is indirectly proportional to distortion. A type font can be classified as scalable when it can be resized (enlarged or reduced) without alterations to character outline.


• Emotion

Emotion consideration during the process of selection, pairing and designing is as crucial as oxygen for living. Unless you are one with the feel and message of the design brief or for that matter aligned with the final motive and gain, it cannot do justice to true depiction via font and typeface.
Wit: Theme of the creative outlines the elements of emotional display by colors and text.
Poise: Mixing typefaces with a similar line quality if they offer different texture.
Energy: Use typefaces with complimentary moods to evoke an upbeat, energetic air.
Dignity: Simplistic approach in typefaces embellishing purity, goodness and clarity.


• Readability

Readability is the ease with which the eye can absorb the message and move along the line. User has to feel comfortable with the type particularly if used for long text. However, the type needs to fit with the design of choice and theme.


• No hard rules

Last rule in choosing and pairing the font is; there is NO rule. Conventions are followed is selection and usage on type, there are no hard and fast, ironclad rules on how to use a type. For instance, there are no hard rules when it comes to what you should eat for dinner or how you should dress in the morning, same goes for typeface. Typography is a long learning process constantly being honed through trial and error and continuous efforts over time.


• Grouping fonts: the font family

(GHOTMS, Geometric Humanist Old Style Transitional Modern Slab Serif)
font typeface
A quick way of organizing possible typefaces is to use the most widely used typography categorization: serif or sans serif. Serif embodies continuity and engagement, therefore, improve readability. San serif groupies disagree labeling it a typography myth. Serif is proclaimed to be traditional and old fashioned. On the other hand, claims voicing futuristic and modern are linked with san serif typeface.


Helvitia font type
Typefaces based on strict geometric form. Letter forms are same width. Evidence of minimalism “less is more” in design. Examples of Geometric/Realist/Grotesk Sans: Helvetica, Univers, Futura, Avant Garde, Akzidenz Grotesk, Franklin Gothic, Gotham.


Verdana font type
Clean and modern in appearance, derived from human handwriting. Letter forms of the Humanist font generally have less consistency, more detail, and frequent use of thinner and thicker stroke weight. Examples of Humanist sans: Gill Sans, Frutiger, Myriad, Optima, Verdana.

Old Style

Garamond font type
Contrast between thick and thin and the curved letters like S tend to tilt towards the left from the base. Old Style typefaces are readable, classic and traditional. Examples of Old Style: Jenson, Bembo, Palatino, and Garamond.


Baskerville font type
Transitional consists of letterforms that are more generic, sharp and technical when compared to the traditional simplicity of Old Style. Best manifestation of Transitional can come out to be strong, stylish and dynamic. Examples of transitional typefaces are Times New Roman and Baskerville.


Helvetica Nue font type
Example of Modern serifs: Bodoni. Didot, Helvetica Nue.

Slab Serif

Courier font type
Although there are two main font types, Serif and San Serif, a third brand is included termed as Slab Serif. Slab Serif is a font with thick bold serif (strokes on the edge). Slab Serifs can be either blunt and angular or rounded. Rockwell is a well known Slab Serif although typewriter fonts such as Courier and American Typewriter also are Slab Serif.


Wrap Up

Well, I hope these above guidelines will help you out when in a font selection and pairing dilemma. We channel our efforts towards improvement and betterment of readers (designers mostly) and breathe and grow with your feedback on areas of imperfection. All in all, picking a font is genuinely a combination of intuition, skill set and demand, only mastered by practice.

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