Tips and tricks for successfully
pairing typefaces




Start with Content

Read and understand the content for the project. Get a feel for what the author is trying to convey. Choose typefaces that represent the mood and context of the text and determine the appropriate target audience.



Know typeface classifications

Understand the classification of a chosen typeface. Knowing its classification and the letterform structure helps you determine its personality and whether the two pairs will work well together.

SERIF: Oldstyle Humanist, Oldstyle Garalde, Transitional, Modern and Slab

SANS SERIF: Grotesque, Neo-Grotesque, Geometric and Humanist



Blend Characteristics

Compare typeface proportions through x-heights and character width for balance. Establish hierarchy and assign each typeface a purpose and limit them to specific size ranges.



Balance the details

Look for similarities within the details of each typeface you’re trying to pair. Aim for rhythm and balance between the two. Compare the stress of the letter ‘O’, their cap heights, ascender height and descender depth. Their personalities should complement each other while providing contrast. Make sure type classifications and personalities don’t clash.



  1. Two typefaces create a foundation for a typographic system.
  2. Use a serif and sans serif typeface to create contrast.
  3. Read the text and understand it. Determine how it feels.
  4. Choose a primary typeface (typically body copy) to anchor and set the emotional tone of your design.
  5. Understand the history and technical details and examine the letterforms.
  6. Establish the personality of the typeface. Does it match the voice of the content?
  7. Select a typeface that complements your primary typeface and the emotion you want it to convey. Avoid redundancy by ensuring there are similarities as well as differentiating characteristics. Avoid pairings that look too alike.
  8. Measure the typefaces against each other through:

     (line thickness, angles, shapes, spacing and rhythm)

    Doing this helps to coordinate between the two.

  9. Pair typefaces then fonts.
  10. Select typefaces with multiple variants and weights. (Hairline, thin, book, medium, bold, ultra bold, condensed, wide, etc.) Styles should complement each others’ personality.
  11. Mix typefaces with a similar line quality if they offer different textures.
  12. Achieve contrast through weight, style, color, size, placement, texture, spacing, and case (upper and lower).
  13. Create harmony between contrasting typefaces by seeking out a few similarities like proportion, character shape and x-height.
  14. When choosing a display face with a strong, distinctive personality, pair it with a neutral typeface for balance.
  15. Conflicts usually occur between moods and time periods.
  16. Use letterforms AagekoR14 to compare the characteristics between typefaces.
    • o to determine character width
    • R for the size of closed counter  
    • e to distinguish between the size of the eye and openness of the counter
    • Numerals to identify whether they are lining or oldstyle    
    • Draw lines at the baseline, cap height, x-height, ascenders and descenders with vertical lines to compare character width.