There’s an art to combining typefaces. When it is done well, the entire layout comes alive. Words become more legible, information feels organized and easier to understand, and the typography itself reflects a mood that is consistent with the message being conveyed. When it is done badly, it’s a jarring hodge-podge.
That’s why when we ran across this lesson on Hoefler & Frere Jones’s website, we had to bring it to you. (H&FJ, as most of you know, is one of the world’s foremost digital typehouses.) H&FJ’s overriding advice is: Keep one thing consistent, and let one thing vary.
1. Use typefaces with complementary moods to evoke an upbeat, energetic air.
The interplay between fonts gives them energy.
2. Mix typefaces from the same historical period whose families have different features.
Choosing typefaces with different features alleviates redundancy.
3. Mix typefaces with a similar line quality if they offer different textures.
Using these three mechanical typefaces in combination sets up a dramatic typographical tension.
4. Mix typefaces with similar proportions and give each a different role.
Only one typeface can be the star, the other two are assigned to play supporting roles.