Trip the Font Fantastic! Picking and Pairing Fonts

Fonts are our secret, delicious vice, aren’t they? We love love love our favorites, and even still, we always want more. But there are a series of practical considerations that go into picking the right font for the job, so your image has meaning and impact. Here are some tips for making good design decisions when pairing fonts and putting them to work. 

Set the direction

The type of project you’re working helps to set the overall direction for your creative decisions. Is it a business card, a wedding invitation, or blog banner? Bearing the context in mind will help to guide your font choices. It’s like figuring out what you are going to wear for the day. If you were going to the gym, you wouldn’t wear a tuxedo to work out in, right? You still have a lot of choices to make — shorts, sweats, yoga gear — but the broad outlines and limitations are clear.

three photos with text showing different moods in font choice

 

Match your mood with a font that’s feelin’ it!

With your direction set, you can start thinking about the mood or atmosphere you want to convey. Does your project require a serious mood or do you need to sprinkle in some delight? If you’ve got a serious information piece, you might pick Didact Gothic, Tahoma, or Arial. These fonts have clean and simple characters that convey words earnestly. On the other hand, if your project calls for more levity, you might pick a font like La Belle Aurore, Sue Ellen Francisco, or Amatic Small Caps. These fonts brighten the mood with handwritten characteristics and cheerful whimsy.

grid showing six moods with fonts to match

 

Vary size, weight, and position

Now that you’ve zeroed in on a font that can carry the mood of your piece, you might be tempted to immediately pile on some more… cuz won’t more fonts create more flare and excitement? The reality is that a lot of the time, one typeface will do. Really, it will. Setting some text in a different size or heavier weight (bold) offers variation and distinguishes headlines from body text. You can also do a lot with one font when you play around with positioning.

image showing varying weights position and sizes for the same font

 

Look for contrast when you pair

There are times when a second typeface does add to your overall design. If you are going to add another typeface, don’t just pick a slight variation; make it significantly different from the first one. Pick a bolder or more decorative font for the most important part of the message and a simpler font for secondary copy; one that helps downplay the text so it isn’t competing for the viewers’ attention.

grid showing six font pairings

 

Tamp down the flavah for longer chunks of text

If your project involves lengthy body copy or paragraph text, you’ll need a workhorse like Arial, Times New Roman, or Verdana. These fonts give up a bit in style to do the heavy lifting in the legibility department. Is there really any question about which font works best for the paragraph below?

two blocks of text with different fonts _ Verdana and Things We Said

 

Stay tuned for more scoops on fonts

The next article in our series on fonts will be talking about hierarchy, grouping, and spacing. Happy designing!

Read more:

 

  • Annie Gauthier

    I want to know why the fonts are not in alphabetical order because I have trouble remembering the names of my favorite (maybe because I’m a French speaker???)

    • http://www.picmonkey.com PicMonkey

      Great feedback, we’ll definitely keep it in mind. We try to organize them by theme or type. For the time being, jot down a list of your favorites and keep it handy.

  • http://sanyambe.blogspot.com Sylvia

    Very helpful tips. I use Picmonkey a lot for greeting cards, gadget cover designs and the like. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • http://www.dollyiscooking.blogspot.com Dolly

    Thank you for your site and these wonderful tips.

  • http://jessieclemence.wordpress.com Jessie Clemence

    This is great! I’d love to see more graphic design advice, because I’m just making it up as I go. I also love how you gave those examples of fonts that go well together.

    • http://www.picmonkey.com PicMonkey

      Thanks for letting us know, Jessie! We’ll keep ‘em coming :-)

  • http://jessieclemence.wordpress.com Jessie Clemence

    Reblogged this on Jessie Clemence and commented:
    For my blogging friends who need some graphic design help!

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  • http://Babycouture@live.com.mx Lydia

    Thanks!

  • HC

    I would love a list of the fonts available that have the Bold and Italics options.
    THanks!

    • http://www.picmonkey.com PicMonkey

      Hi HC! Excellent suggestion! Passing this gem along to the rest of the team.

  • https://www.facebook.com/IslandLovePrincess24 Nisha Wilz

    Thanks for the advice, I love using pic monkey!

  • http://ahmedmedo_201334 AhMed

    Thanxx for you

  • http://theneighborhoodmoms.com Michelle

    I would love an option to save a watermark or create my own stamp to watermark images. Is that something I am missing? I’m tired of typing in my web address on each image! :)

  • http://0987654 memes

    Jow jow jow

  • https://www.facebook.com/missJawlz Juls Estelle

    I just found your site about 4 hours ago & I haven’t stopped playing yet! I LOVE IT!! I just bought a year subscription. I’m never going to sleep again.
    I don’t know if I’m happy or mad. LOL !!

  • http://asianvball.wordpress.com asianvball

    I love PicMonkey but I’m having a lot of trouble using it for web banners and images. Whenever I include text in the image (and I’ve demo-ed many different fonts), they come out as very blurry regardless of the quality I set it as in order to Save. Am I missing something or is PicMonkey the wrong tool for making web banners with text?

  • https://www.facebook.com/betsy.ward.16 Betsy Ward

    This was very helpful ,thank you!

  • Charlotte

    Where’s the icon to Pin this to PINTEREST!!!?

  • Lynne Taylor

    I’d like to shadowing on fonts if that’s possible, and also being able to make them circular, curved.

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  • http://applegr136.wordpress.com Apple Smiley

    Reblogged this on Apple Smiley.

  • http://CasaLatina.com Marlene Pratt

    Thank you so much, I could not do my job well if I did not have Picmonkey to work with….I am looking forward to the day when I can add shadows and curved to my words. I am also looking forward to the day when I can superimposed one picture with another. Keep up the great work…

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  • http://picmonkey zain

    Very Good

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  • http://gravatar.com/brandijfisher brandijfisher

    I love the fonts! Is there a way to bend the fonts so they curve? I feel like that’s the one thing I am missing all of the time is being able to manipulate the fonts.

    • https://www.facebook.com/patricia.hole Patricia Ann Fennessey Hole

      Hold down the shift key when placing the overlays it will allow for just horizontal placement or vertical placement and enlargement.

  • Susan

    I love to create memes but many times, the prints gets lost in the background. I would love to see overlay strips (with fade option) that are just for print…the current overlays extend horizontally and vertically, simultaneously, and just don’t work! Love Pic Monkey! PLEEEEASE consider adding print overlays!

  • Amy

    LOVE PicMonkey. Is there anyway to crop photos in other shapes–circular?

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  • https://www.facebook.com/patricia.hole Patricia Ann Fennessey Hole

    I love Picmonkey when are 3d font capabilities going to be released

  • Eddie

    Is there a way to import a font? I have a specific font I need to use and you guys don’t seem to have it.

  • http://www.BreathingHappiness.com Liping Feng

    Hi PicMonkey,
    I love your app. super fantastic. use it everyday. and it’s staying on my laptop 24-7 :)!

    this year some new fonts are in fashion, I wonder if you would consider adding Cantoni to your already cool collection. I tried to use other apps where I can use it, but no one can match picmonkey. so am just wondering.
    Thank you so much for being you and being so cool!
    Peace & Blessings,
    Liping.

  • http://www.BreathingHappiness.com Liping Feng

    Dearest PicMonkey,
    Thank you a million, many many multi millions!

    I just found all the fonts you’ve added! Mwah! I love PicMonkey even more!

    Just want to say “Thank you!” for all the good that you are going. I’ve learned so much just by having this monkey on my browser 24/7 :) <3 <3 <3!

  • Patricia Ann Fennessey Hole

    Thank you thank you thank you for all the new ability with fonts. I love you.

  • winterof89

    I love pic monkey thank you so much!!!!

  • Lilly

    Hi I wouod like to know what fonts complements papyrus? And why papyrus is not a well liked/used font. Thanks so much, Lilly

    • http://www.picmonkey.com PicMonkey

      Hi Lilly,

      The consensus among designers is that Papyrus is just not a well-designed typeface. It’s hard to pair with anything other than a plain, sans-serif typeface, because Papyrus is so visually distracting.

  • http://www.gjb.com.cn/gjbbbs/home.php?mod=space&uid=20916 www.gjb.com.cn

    There’s definately a great deal to find out about this subject.
    I love all the points you’ve made.

  • http://al-imam.net/forums/index.php?s=b76f82d9b24730213e559f27e8686052&showuser=450089 Linnea

    After I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from
    now on each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same
    comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you can remove
    me from that service? Thanks a lot!