How to Successfully Combine Mixed Fonts

Using multiple fonts in any design is an excellent way to create interest as well as to draw a viewer’s eye to important content. Choosing the right mixture of fonts, though, can be difficult. Without some knowledge as to how to fit the different typefaces or font styles together, a design could become quite overwhelming and confusing.

Of course, knowing what fonts to use together also requires a bit of intuition. If you don’t quite have the eye, simply start browsing through typographical posters, websites, and other graphic designs that excellently utilize different fonts. You will eventually be able to tell what fonts simply draw the eye more than others in a design and which ones mesh well together. When this intuition is combined with some basic tricks for mixing and matching fonts, you will become quite the expert in choosing beautiful blends of fonts, no matter the design.

Below are the basic tips you need to know before jumping into using mixed fonts in graphic or web design, along with some excellent examples of good practice. So take some time to read through the following rules, do some research to see more mixed typography in use, and then you should be ready to try some multiple font designs on your own.

Beware of Font Overkill

Less is always more in design, and this rule is no exception when it comes to mixing fonts. Too many different fonts – or even simply too many font styles and colors – and you’ll not emphasize anything. Viewers won’t know where to look first when they see a page layout. Their eyes will jump from one to the other for a second or two, and the majority will give up trying to decipher where to begin reading than struggle through the confusing text. Keep in mind that the point of using multiple fonts is to increase the aesthetics of a design, create hierarchy and order in content, and to highlight important information.

Search for Similarities

Look for fonts that are either starkly different (see the next tip) or that have a good bit of similarity. They don’t have to both be sans serif or serif but they should have similar shapes, proportions, stroke widths, slants of letters, etc. Basically, similar fonts are those that have the same weight in a design, which means that they will equally draw the eye. There is a warning that comes with this tip: don’t pick fonts that are too close in look and feel, as it can end up backfiring and only create a slightly “off” look. You want the fonts to look close enough to be complimentary but different enough to not look weird.

Look for Differences

High contrast fonts help different sections of content to really stand out from each other. For instance, using two contrasting fonts for the title and the body copy help to separate the two different pieces of text very well. However, just as with similar fonts, there is a caveat to choosing very different fonts: make sure that the contrasting fonts still work well together. They still need to create the same tone or vibe so as to not clash.

Limit Colors and Styles

It is very important when using multiple fonts to choose colors and styles carefully. Too many differences, and viewers will experience quite a pounding headache. Stick with colors that are of the same hue or have the same saturation. Or rather than changing colors, try changing the style – underline, bold or italicize. Or, you can change the size of a single font. But don’t do all of these techniques in the same design. Limit yourself to a method or two that fits with the style of the design you are creating.

Consider the Impression

All fonts give off an “attitude”. This feeling or impression of a font will be the ultimate deciding factor in choosing which fonts to use together. If your multiple fonts meet all of the criteria above but don’t give off the same tone, then they were not meant to be together. Remember too to note the image desired by your client. If you client wants a strong, corporate look choose fonts that give this impression and stay away from the whimsical or urban ones.

Keep Text Readable

One of the fun parts of choosing different fonts is that you can sometimes use an unusual font design. However, stick with the rules of typography and choose a serif, highly readable font for body copy. And use the same font for all body copy. Limit weird, sans serif, or slightly unreadable fonts to titles and possibly headers. Use your judgement. If you have a hard time reading the page, so will everyone else.

Do you have any more tips for creating graphic or web designs with mixed fonts? Feel free to share with the rest of us in the comments below!