Creatively fulfilling and rewarding – that is the basis of typography, an essential part of graphic design. However, it has its fair share of challenges, and can prove to be quite frustrating, requiring a lot of hard work. Typography is all about dealing with various aspects of typefaces – and finding that perfect mix of multiple fonts.
Today, great designs are all about incorporating a wide variety of fonts to make the designs appealing. Working with one or two fonts is in itself a huge challenge, let alone using more than four fonts together. Yet, many designers insist on using five fonts or more, which, depending on the designer and the technique, can either look very good, or turn out to be a miserable failure.
So what exactly does it take to create fabulous designs with a variety of complicated typefaces – and get it right?
Scale matters. So does proportion.
The trick to getting different fonts to work and look as a complete whole is to make sure that you use fonts which are similar in scale and proportion. For example, the Helvetica font and the Venus font are very similar to each other, both being sans serif fonts. The same can be said for Arial Narrow and Times New Roman. You can examine in detail for yourself to see if two fonts are similar by studying separate characters, as well as complete words.
While the fonts that you choose to throw in together don’t have to be exact clones of each other, paying attention to the proportion and scales of the fonts is essential. In case you do decide to go for fonts that differ sharply from each other, it’s best if you relegate specific fonts to different parts of the webpage to emphasize specific areas of the website.
Body text should be easily readable
Mixing and matching multiple funky typefaces is great as long as you leave your body text out of it. Body text should always be clear and legible, and a hotchpotch of fonts in a paragraph doesn’t really do anything towards accomplishing that objective. A single typeface for the entire body copy is how it should be done.
Be careful with colors and styles
Using as many as seven fonts on a page, with six different color shades and three different font styles is not going to make your design look appealing – on the contrary, it will want to make your visitors head straight for the close button! That does not mean that you have to stick to using a single style or a single color, but you do need to pay attention to the way you use them.
When it comes to colors, keep in mind that for the different colors to blend in – and not clash with each other – it’s best to use shades from the same hue/saturation level. You can take a little bit more liberty with font styles, but you need to make sure that whatever you do, it shouldn’t be too taxing on the viewers’ eyes.
Apply contrasting font weights
A guaranteed way to mess up a good design is by failing to distinguish one hierarchical font from another. When using two different fonts, variation in size is not the only thing you need to pay attention to – it is important to differentiate font weights, so you can lead the reader’s eye to exactly where you want it.
For example, using a narrow typeface for the headline and a bold typeface for the body text will guarantee that the reader misses the intended impact of the headline. Since attention needs to be drawn to the headline, the font weights need to be reversed, with a heavy-weighted typeface for the headline, and a narrow one for the body text.