Before a customer starts to read a message on your website or flip through a brochure for your business, the font you’re using communicates something to them.
Each font delivers a different feeling, personality, and visual impact. And fonts can be even more powerful when used in opposition and support of each other, especially ones that provide contrast.
So how do you choose fonts for your business? How do you find fonts that can communicate what you’re all about?
Picking a font is kind of like shopping for new clothes. You can wear anything in the store, but you have to choose something that works for your personal style. You want to choose a font that visually represents your brand and your values.
For example, if you’re a financial services company, it wouldn’t be appropriate to choose a decorative font because it suggests artsiness and creativity instead of security and trust. A tech company may steer clear of script fonts as they can be hard to read online and may not fit the culture or mission of the company.
What is a font pair?
A font pair is a set of two complementary fonts that give you options when it comes to designing branded assets. This pairing provides go-to fonts to use for both heading copy (on website pages, business cards, brochures, invitations, posters, and more) and body copy, which makes up the bulk of the content you’ll write.
You may be thinking, can’t I just use the font or fonts in my logo as my “main” font? Sometimes, yes. But sometimes the font used in your logo only has one weight, is custom, or doesn’t work well as heading or body copy.
Or, your logo may be a mark on monogram that doesn’t include a font to work from.
By having a strategically chosen pair of fonts that work well together, you’ll be better able to achieve interest, readability, balance, visual hierarchy, and contrast in your branding.
What is visual hierarchy?
Visual hierarchy is the arrangement of content to communicate information — it directs viewers to the most important information first, and then guides them through the rest of the content with visual cues. Visual hierarchy is achieved through fonts, colors, images, sizing, and more.
When you have a font pair where one font is more prominent than the other, people will know where to look first when they see that heading font. It’s what you want your readers to see before they get into the rest of the content, so they know what that content is about.
What should I know about heading and body copy fonts?
Heading fonts should always use a more bold version of a particular font. So, for example, if you’re using Avenir as your heading font, you’ll want to use a bold or heavy version (or “cut”) of Avenir versus a cut that’s narrow or light.
Body copy fonts, on the other hand, can be in a regular cut of a chosen font, so as not to “yell” at the reader or cause confusion about what information is most important.
Do I need two fonts for my brand? Where do I use them?
Nope, not always. Sometimes all you need is to use different cuts or weights of one font family. Using Avenir as an example again, you could use bold cuts of it for your heading copy and regular cuts of it for your body copy.
Once you’ve landed on a font or font pair, you can apply it on almost any branded asset, including your website, posters, banners, brochures, menus, social media images, blog posts, company swag, stationery.
For more guidance, we’ve included 11 examples of font pairs in different style categories (sans-serif, serif, vintage, handwritten, and more). Then we put them to use in real-life settings!
Font Pair #1: Sans-Serif Heading + Slab Body Copy
Sans-serif fonts are excellent for general readability. They work well for both large and fine print, as well as in lower resolutions, which makes them perfect for digital uses like websites and ebooks.
Sans-serif fonts also bring strength, clarity, and a clean and modern look to any project they’re featured in. Thick sans-serifs can be tough and hard-working, while thin-line versions look glamorous and noble.
In the above pairing, we’ve chosen Montserrat in a bold cut as the heading font — a clean, eye-pleasing sans-serif — and matched it with Roboto Slab in a regular cut, which adds visual interest while remaining clear and readable.
You can see how well this pairing works on a business card, where the name is the most important element, followed by contact information.
Font Pair #2: Serif Heading + Sans-Serif Body Copy
Serif fonts boast a classy, high-end, authoritative look. Think of Times New Roman, one of the most popular font choices around. Most newspapers use serif fonts, and they’re also popular in books, brochures, and fine print.
While they have more detail than sans-serif fonts, serif fonts are still ultra legible and our eyes are accustomed to their shape. As such, serif fonts can easily be paired with other serif fonts or sans-serif fonts.
In the above pairing, we’ve chosen Crimson Text in a semi-bold cut as the heading font, and Montserrat as the body copy font to keep things clean and simple.
We’ve shown off the fonts in a brand guidelines book, where you can see visual hierarchy at play.
Font Pair #3: Vintage Heading + Serif Body Copy
Vintage logos have seen a surge in popularity in the past few years, with vintage-looking fonts also on the rise. These types of fonts work well for businesses like bespoke goods, craft stores, barbershops, and coffee shops, thanks to their detailed and nostalgic vibe.
Due to their intricacy, vintage fonts are often paired with classic serif fonts to ensure readability while maintaining a consistent vintage look.
In this pairing, we’ve used Rye as the heading font and Lora as the body copy font. See how well this combination works on this website banner for vintage typewriters.
Font Pair #4: Handwritten Heading + Serif Body Copy
Handwritten and script fonts are elegant, creative, intuitive, and add tons of visual interest to branded applications. However, script can be hard to read at a glance, which is why these fonts are best suited to headings and not body copy or long paragraphs.
Because of their decorative nature, script fonts are often paired with serif or slab-serif fonts for an easy-to-read and unified look.
In the above pairing, we’ve chosen Sacramento, a quirky script font with a big personality, and paired it with Playfair Display in a regular cut.
See this font combination in action on a restaurant menu that’s breezy and inviting while still being easy to read and navigate.
Font Pair #5: Modern Heading + Sans-Serif Body Copy
Most modern fonts are sans-serif, lending to that clean and easy-to-read look that translates well across applications and screen sizes. It’s why most tech companies you see today use this style of font.
To keep things interesting when using two sans-serif fonts in a pair, use a bolder cut of your chosen header font.
In the above example, we paired Fira Sans in a bold cut as the heading and Montserrat as the body copy, which is super easy on the eyes.
You can see how this pairing works in a social media card, where Montserrat is used in both italics and all caps.
Font Pair #6: Slab Heading + Sans-Serif Body Copy
Slab serif is a type of serif font that’s bolder and blockier than traditional serifs. It brings an old-school, nerdy charm to a project or brand, and harkens back to a typewriter font.
Because of their inherent boldness, slab fonts are good for logos and heading fonts. They can also be used for body copy, as we saw in a previous example, but this is a less frequent application.
In the above example, we used Arvo in a bold cut as the heading font and Montserrat (again!) as the body copy font.
You can see how this pairing works in a book, as seen on this table of contents page.
Font Pair #7: Funky Heading + Sans-Serif Body Copy
We classify “funky” fonts as bold, out-of-the-ordinary styles that add major visual impact. They usually evoke a particular feeling in a viewer due to their highly stylized look, and they’re paired with clean, sans-serif fonts for balance and hierarchy.
While it can be tempting to go with a funky font, beware of using ones that are super trendy or that don’t match your brand personality. These types of fonts are never a good choice for body copy, so stick to using them in headers.
In the above example, we used Arbutus as the heading copy, an edgy font. To balance out the complexity of Arbutus, it’s paired with Montserrat (Montserrat font pairings FTW!) in a regular cut.
See how this works on a website heading, where the button and “Featured Items” tag are in Montserrat, and the “This Week’s Arrivals” are in Arbutus.
Font Pair #8: Calligraphic Heading + Serif Body Copy
Like handwritten fonts, calligraphic fonts are delicate, elegant, and a unique way to represent your brand when used correctly. They often bring a gentle, soothing vibe wherever they appear.
Because of their complexity, calligraphic fonts should only be used as heading fonts, as they’re tricky to read when put into longer paragraphs.
In the above example, we’ve used the sweeping Parisienne as our heading font, and paired it with Lora, an easy-to-ready serif font.
See how well this works on a wedding invitation, where the bride and groom’s names are treated as the “heading” and the rest of the details are the body copy.
Font Pair #9: Bubbly Heading + Sans-Serif Body Copy
Bubbly fonts are fun, friendly, and statement-making. As we’ve pointed out with other highly stylized fonts, it’s best to use these types of fonts in headings only, as they’re too bold for body copy. Also, beware of styles that are too trendy, or that may look dated quickly.
Due to their “look at me” nature, bubbly fonts are best paired with simple serif or sans-serif fonts so as not to overwhelm the reader.
In the above example, we’ve used Bungee in a bold cut as the heading and the simple Open Sans as the body copy.
Here’s how it might look on a social ad for an ecommerce website:
Font Pair #10: Futuristic Heading + Slab Body Copy
Futuristic fonts evoke a particular feeling, and often make people think of robots, computers, or space. With that in mind, be cautious when using this type of font as it will only work for a handful of brands.
Due to their shape and attention-grabbing qualities, futuristic fonts often pair well with slab-serif or serif fonts for a visually balanced look.
In the above example, we’ve paired Orbitron in a bold cut with Roboto Slab in the body copy, a simple yet impactful font.
You can see how this font combination would look on a magazine page or a social media post for a technology brand.
Font Pair #11: Elegant Heading + Serif Body Copy
Elegant fonts are classified a a certain style of serif fonts. They can elevate a message and convey a sense of trust while still being playful or whimsical.
These types of fonts are often paired with a clean sans-serif font to draw attention to the heading and convey an overall look of elegance.
In the above example, we’ve used Playfair Display in a bold cut as the heading and Montserrat as the body copy font.
See how this looks on a simple wedding thank-you card, where the “Thank You” serves as the heading because it’s the first thing the sender wants the receiver to see.
Font pairs can be unfamiliar territory for many new business owners, especially those without a design background.
But knowing what fonts will best communicate your brand and complement your logo means you’ll be ready for any marketing application — and you’ll make design decisions easier and be able to better explain your brand identity to anyone who works on your business.