There are very few more time-consuming tasks than hunting down the perfect typographic pairing for a project, and for us graphic designers; it remains one of the most difficult parts of the design process.
Not only is there an abundance of typefaces to choose from in the first place (this infographic shows 400 unique combinations created from less than 3% of the total typefaces on offer from Google Fonts, for example), but also the process of finding a typeface that is complementary to your original choice is a daunting prospect.
Sure, you can do a bit of Googling and read some of the many “best pairing” lists out there, but typically, these pairings are massively overused and thus, using them won’t help you to stand out from the crowd.
So, if you’re looking for a unique yet epic typeface combo, we’ve rounded up some of the lesser-used pairings that we’ve found across the web.
Here they are:
Brandon Grotesque + Freight Display Pro
Based in South Carolina, Nudge is a creative design studio specialising predominantly in anything relating to visual identity (i.e. website design, print, packaging, etc.).
Their website makes use of a lot of white space and has a minimalistic, yet high-quality look to it. The site makes use of two fonts: Brandon Grotesque and Freight Display Pro.
Freight Display Pro is the serif font used for the main paragraph text; it’s stylish and easy to read. Brandon Grotesque is a friendlier font that is used for the menu items and various other aspects on the site.
Neuzeit Grotesque + Freight Sans
Neuzeit Grotesque isn’t a typeface that you tend to come across very often, but as you can see, it’s beautifully simple and bold in its appearance (it’s used for the heading in the image above).
It’s a sans serif typeface similar to the likes of Helvetica – or possibly even Proxima Nova (to an extent) – as it has a no-nonsense yet modern look and feel to it.
Alongside Neuzeit Grotesque, you can see Freight Sans Regular; the pair work stunningly well together.
Open Sans + Proxima Nova
Open Sans and Proxima Nova probably wouldn’t typically be a good font combination choice, as the two typefaces are pretty similar in their appearance (i.e. both sans serif, simple, etc.).
However, by making use of the condensed version of Open Sans alongside Proxima Nova Regular, the issue of pairing similar, non-complimentary fonts has been avoided.
Sure, they’re both still quite similar, but as you can see from the image above, they work well alongside each other.
Museo Slab + Brandon Grotesque
Museo Slab is a gorgeous typeface that has it’s own unique style. It’s a slab-serif font that works perfectly for headings and paragraph text alike.
In the example above, Museo Slab is the primary typeface used throughout the site. It’s used for the headings, and much of the paragraph text (although various font styles, sizes and weights are used to ensure there is hierarchy in the design).
However, the website also makes use of Brandon Grotesque for various elements; and despite not being all that different from Museo Slab, it adds a certain level of depth to the design.
Didot (Italic) + Futura PT
Didot tends to be used for body (or paragraph) text, but in this instance, the designer has opted to use Didot primarily as a display font (i.e. for headings).
It features alongside Futura PT (the primary typeface used throughout the design), which is a simple sans serif typeface that is both modern and exceptionally readable (even at small font sizes).
Although Futura PT is an elegant typeface, it does tend to lack a little personality, so it’s good that Didot – a serif, italicised typeface – is there to make up for this and help bring the design to life.
Old Standard TT + Montserrat
Let’s Travel Somewhere is a beautifully crafted website that comes across as modern, simple, and most of all, extremely elegant.
This is thanks – in part – to a well-chosen typeface combination: Old Standard TT and Montserrat.
Montserrat is essentially the “grounding” typeface of this design; it’s highly readable and modern. On the other hand, Old Standard TT has a little more elegance and life to it; it’s also a serif typeface, which almost always works well alongside a beautiful sans serif font.
Georgia + Cassannet (Bold)
Georgia is perhaps one of the most well known fonts in existence; it comes preinstalled on just about every major operating system and is widely used across the web (as well as in print).
However, it usually tends to be used for large chunks of text (e.g. paragraphs). In this instance though, it’s used relatively sparingly alongside Cassannet: an extremely unique typeface that is somewhat similar to Raleway (albeit with a bit more “uniqueness”).
Although on it’s own, Georgia might come across as a rather formal and dull choice, Cassannet manages to bring the typeface to life, and gives the design a unique and eye-catching appearance.
Franchise + Old
The Brooklyn Soap Company is a modern, somewhat vintage-looking brand that produces natural men’s grooming products.
The entire premise of the brand is based around a no nonsense approach, which makes Franchise and Old the perfect typographic combination for the company.
Old is a serif typeface that has a vintage-y feel to it, whereas Franchise is a heavy-looking sans serif typeface. The two fonts couldn’t be more different, which is partly why they make such a great combination.
You know what they say: opposites attract.
Univers Condensed + URW Garamond
Univers is the simple, elegant and well-formed typeface that has been used for the headings in the website pictured above (“silk road” is the heading).
Alongside it, you can see URW Garamond: a unique serif typeface that has been used for the main body text.
Once again, these two fonts are extremely different from one another, which is why they work so well together. Both of these typefaces probably wouldn’t create the desired effect alone, but with the help of each other, well, you can see the result for yourself.
Gudea + Droid Serif
Gudea is one of the hundreds of free typefaces available to download and use from Google Fonts. However, despite the fact that it’s open source and free, it’s not a typeface that you come across very often.
It features a relatively simple sans serif design, but it has a certain inviting quality to it. In the design above, it has been paired with Droid Serif (another free typeface available from Google Fonts), which offers the perfect counterpart.
Droid Serif is – as you’d expect – a serif typeface, which is one of the reasons it works so well alongside Gudea (a sans serif typeface).
Futura Condensed + Droid Serif
Futura and Droid Serif are used in this simple and unique website design promoting the movie, Life of Pi.
At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there were three or four typefaces at work here, but there isn’t. Instead, Futura Bold and Medium are used for different aspects of the design, which is what creates the sense of hierarchy.
Futura has been used for the main eye-catching parts of the design (e.g. heading, subheading, etc.), whereas Droid Serif has been used for the calls-to-action and the main paragraph text.
It’s a classic sans serif + serif combination, and it works perfectly.
Georgia + Proxima Nova
Zegna.com is a stunning website that has an upmarket, luxurious feel to it.
While this is partly down to the use of high quality product photography (this always goes a long way!), typography also plays a big part in the process.
Proxima Nova and Georgia are combined to help create the desired brand image. Georgia is used for the headings, whereas Proxima Nova is used for the subheadings and menu items.
It’s a beautiful combo that’s simple, clean and is sure to appeal to their target market.
Bebas + Droid Serif
Style Me Pretty is a highly regarded online magazine covering everything related to fashion/style/home, amongst other things.
Being a website focussed on style and “pretty” things, it makes sense that the website itself should be extremely stylish and pretty, and it certainly achieves this goal.
White space is used in abundance to achieve this, with Bebas and Droid Serif combining to create a stylish font pairing. Bebas is used for headings, whereas Droid Serif is used for the body text.
This pairing would likely work just as well the other way round (i.e. Bebas for body text and Droid Serif for headings).
Helvetica Neue + PT Serif
Helvetica Neue is a hugely popular typeface. It’s used on hundreds and thousands of websites, and it also recently landed a job as the default typeface on all of Apple’s operating systems (i.e. OSX and iOS 7-8).
It’s a simple yet elegant font that is at its best at large font sizes (hence why it was used for the heading in the website pictured above). On the other hand, PT Serif works just as well at both large and small font sizes, which is why it has been chosen as the primary typeface for the Teehan+Lax website.
The thing about Helvetica Neue and PT Serif is that they are drastically different fonts; this is a good thing, as opposites tend to attract in the typographic world.
Arial + Times New Roman
Times New Roman and Arial: perhaps two of the oldest and most widely used typefaces in existence.
Despite being so well known and widely used, it’s rare that you see these two typefaces paired together on the web. Typically, designers neglect these typefaces in favour of newer, seemingly less overused typefaces.
However, this website serves as a good example of what a great pairing Arial and Times New Roman can be.
Bio: Joshua writes for a number of design blogs and is based in the UK. Typography has always been a passion of his from a young age, and he simply can’t stand poor type combinations.