How to Combine Fonts

Finding the right font can be a challenge in and of itself. Then there’s the challenge of finding another font or two that look nice with it. While there aren’t precise rules for combining fonts together, here are some best practices that can help you get started: 

1. Create contrast.

Contrast between your fonts will highlight the different roles that your fonts are playing, as well as draw attention to important pieces of information. Furthermore, contrasting fonts tend to look nice together.

You can achieve contrast through differences in size, style and weight, or by pairing a sans-serif font with a serif font. Sans-serif/serif font pairings tend to work well together — it’s a popular, easy choice among designers.

contrasting font combination examples

2. Find a couple of shared characteristics.

While you do want contrast, you’ll also want to be sure that your fonts have a sense of harmony. Finding fonts with a couple shared characteristics will help you achieve this. For example, try combining fonts with similar x-heights, proportions or spacing.

PT Serif and PT Sans have similar x-heights. Fonts from the same family / creator typically have shared characteristics and pair well together.

PT Serif and PT Sans have similar x-heights. Fonts from the same family / creator typically have shared characteristics and pair well together.

3. Avoid pairing fonts that are too similar.

As you’re looking for shared characteristics between fonts, remember not to lose your sense of contrast. Your font choices should be distinct — it should be obvious that they are two different fonts, and that your choices were deliberate. Too many similarities may create confusion and discord.

There is not enough contrast between these fonts.

There is not enough contrast between these fonts.

4. Pair complementary fonts.

Fonts have personalities: bold, light, playful, conservative, elegant, etc. If you’re using a bold font, for example, in your headings, try pairing it with an opposite, complementary body font — something more neutral.

5. Limit your number of fonts.

Best “font pairing” practices generally say to stick to 2-3 fonts. You can establish a visual hierarchy by assigning certain fonts to headings, subheadings, excepts and body text.

In general, you won't need more than three fonts (as used above).

In general, you won't need more than three fonts (as used above).

How to Create a Brand Style Guide

A style guide is a reference sheet that defines the visual aspects of your brand, such as your logo, fonts and colors. It’s an essential tool for maintaining consistency throughout all of your branding materials, and is particularly helpful if you’re working with an outside designer or printer, or have multiple people creating new things for your brand. It can also help save time, so you’re never scrambling to find a new font or color to use.

Style guides (also referred to as "brand bibles") can get really in-depth and cover everything from your mission to your target audience, values and brand personality. Below we've outlined some of the more basic, visual design-related to include.

1. Your logo

Consider all the ways it might look in different places, and include multiple versions if necessary. For example, you might have different versions for your website homepage, business cards, letterheads, etc. You should also include any alternate color options you have (reversed, black and white, etc.).

whatsapp style guide logo examples


WhatsApp offers several options of their logo to use for various layouts and occasions. (View the rest of their brand guidelines here.)

Specify the minimum size your logo should be displayed at, and whether it should be surrounded at a certain amount of empty space.

penguin logo style guide

2. Your colors

This will typically be the colors from your logo, as well as a few complementary colors. This section should include HEX codes for web use, and CMYK values and Pantone colors for print. Conversions from RGB colors (using HEX codes) to CMYK can be dramatic sometimes, so be sure to test all of your colors. (Learn more about the differences between RGB, CMYK and Pantone colors.)

Coolors is a great, easy source for generating color schemes. You may also want to try Adobe Kuler and Paletton.

3. Your fonts

Specify which fonts go where — such as which fonts will be used for headings, subheadings, body text, etc. You can also specify sizes, weights, styles, etc. 

from Mailchimp's style guide

from Mailchimp's style guide

4. imagery

Include any graphic or web elements and icons you might use. You might also want to describe what style of photography should be used, and if there are any visual elements that should be avoided.

Skype's style guide  includes its own illustrations

Skype's style guide includes its own illustrations

7 Tips for Choosing a Font

The fonts you choose for your business cards, website, brochures, and other branding materials is important. The right font will elevate your message, while a poor font choice may lessen your credibility. Some are universally liked, and others are disliked by most. It’s not just about likability, though — there are other factors to keep in mind. Consider the points below.

1. What’s your brand personality? Is it serious, playful, traditional, or modern? Let your typeface (and all other components of your design) reflect the image you’re trying to convey.

font t

2. Where will the text be displayed? Many fonts are not one-size-fits-all. Display typefaces are meant to be used in large formats. Text or body fonts are designed for use in large areas of copy.

3. Display faces should be used sparingly — in headlines, or occasionally to draw attention.

4. Try to stick with two fonts, or three at most. And don’t be afraid to use a single one for your entire brand.

5. If you’re only using one or two fonts, you’ll want them to be versatile. See how they look in different sizes, in bold, italic, capitals, lowercase, etc. Some are more versatile than others.

6. If you’re using more than one font, make sure they pair well together. You can do this by using fonts in the same family or by the same designer (for example, Merriweather and Merriweather Sans). It can also be helpful to find a shared quality, such as letter height or width. Experiment until you find the right match.

7. Don’t overcomplicate things. If you’re using more than one font, there should be a reason for it. Smashing Magazine explains: “If we reach a point where we want to add a second face to the mix, it’s always good to observe this simple rule: keep it exactly the same, or change it a lot — avoid wimpy, incremental variations.”

Still need help with design for your business cards or other branding materials? Contact us.