(FYI: As a direct result of writing this original article, we published The Big Book of Font Combinations, a 400 page trove of font combinations that should get you up and going with some ideas very quickly!)
I recently compiled a list of the 19 most popular fonts according to usage by graphic designers from all over the web. I could have had 100, but I got it down to under 50, and from there whittled it down to just the 19 best fonts. Why 19? Because at exactly 20, the “long tail” shot right out and the differences in tallies became negligible. Take a look at those top fonts if you want and come right back because now we are going to have a little typography fun.
What we have here is that list of 19 top fonts once again, but this time combined into pairs to give us 19 excellent font combinations.
How does combining fonts work?
I simply followed the golden rule of font combinations, which is simply to combine a serif and a sans serif to give “contrast” and not “concord”. The farther apart the typeface styles are, as a guideline, the more luck you’ll have. Fonts that are too similar look bad. Set a line of Times Roman over Garamond and you’ll see what I mean. I chose the simple model of a bold headline font and normal weight body font. All the font combinations got the same “lorem” text.
How did I choose the combinations?
I tried to mix it up, but had to make some arbitrary decisions. For instance, I could have picked Baskerville, Caslon, Garamond, or Minion, etc. (all serif typefaces) to go with Futura (a sans serif typeface). I simply choose to spread them out amongst themselves, keeping the use of repeats down to a minimum.
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You may love some of these combinations and hate others, or be unphased by yet others (or you may think I dwell on this too much). However, this is not a fair fight. Pretty much any two fonts can be balanced out and made to work with each other in some type of context. Our context here was strictly delimited, and so any of these combinations might warrant further experimentation for even better results.
Finally, I tried to keep the look of each example as close as possible to each other. This involved using the occasional semibold or light to balance a font out at certain point size. I also tweaked font size and leading in the interest of creating uniformity amongst the examples.
So here we have the following items:
A very long chart of the font combinations
We must also technically call this a list of top typeface combinations, which is what it really is (Google “fonts and typefaces” for some spirited discussions).
A link to a PDF version (2 column) of the original I composed
A text list version of these combinations
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Click the preview image below or download “19 top fonts in 19 top combinations chart“:
Text version of list:
Helvetica / Garamond
Caslon / Univers
Frutiger / Minion
Futura / Bodoni
Garamond / Futura
Gill Sans / Caslon
Minion / Gill Sans
Univers / Caslon
Bodoni / Futura
Myriad / Minion
Avenir / Warnock
Caslon / Franklin Gothic
FF Din / Baskerville
Trade Gothic / Clarendon
Baskerville / Univers
Akzidenz Grotesk / Garamond
Clarendon / Trade Gothic
Franklin Gothic / Baskerville
Warnock / Univers
Enjoy! Thanks again for reading and looking and downloading and printing!