Module 4: Typography
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Combining fonts

When choosing fonts, it could be easy to have one rule, but it doesn’t work like this. As with colour, there is no “one size fits” all situation. The best piece of advice is to value readability over the beauty and intricacy of the letterforms.  Try, test and choose the most appropriate fonts for your content.

Form follows function, always. But there are some commonly used approaches that could make your life easier when you are just beginning working with type.

Sans serif + serif font combination

One of the most popular principles in font paring is to combine sans serif for body copy with a serif for headings. Or vice versa. Serif and sans serif fonts’ letterforms are different enough to set a nice contrast and help you differentiate headings and body text.

Avoid similar fonts

Typefaces from the same class, but from different type families could start conflicting with each other and create unneeded tension. Remember that using contrast is an effective approach to create compositions, and using type is not an exception. Instead of combining similar fonts from different families, use different weights from the same font. See the next tip.

Contrast font weights

You don’t want your text to look boring, you want your reader READ it. That’s why it’s important to build a hierarchy between elements and guide your reader with proper contrast between elements. One of the best ways to do it is to vary the font you use in size and weight. You may visually differentiate your headings, subheadings and body copy and guide the reader’s eye around your design.

Don’t mix fonts with different moods

Avoid confusion when you combine fonts with very contrasting moods. It may sound strange, but all typefaces have their personality and character. Understanding and reading the content you are designing will help you choose the most appropriate font. You won’t combine playful and childish Comic Sans with elegant Didot as they literally speak different languages. Mixing fonts with such a different mood will draw the attention of the reader from the content and message behind it, which returns us back to the famous Form follows function. Try, test and always consider the context. And the content.

Keep it simple

Less is more! Looking for an intricate font combination, take it easy: use two typefaces, and no more. Modern fonts have a wide variety of font weights, so you may be sure that within two different fonts you’ll have enough combinations to create a needed visual hierarchy in your design. Sometimes even one font with a nice variety of weights will be enough. If you feel that it’s not, you can always add colour.

Well done! That's all for the basics of typography, so feel free to jump to the module quiz and test your knowledge.