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Font smashing (or pairing): it’s a thing too

I don’t know exactly how or when it happened, but I’ve become fussy about fonts.  And I find the proliferation of free fonts both satisfying and confounding.

It goes like this.  I shop a font, usually through the options googlefonts in Canva, Picmonkey and the frenzy of open source selections that pop up under More fonts in Google Docs.  I fall in love.  I use it to death.

But just like the closet issues I face getting dressed every morning, on a daily basis, I now confront the issue of font accessorizing or smashing.  Or what design folks call, font pairing.

You simply cannot use one single font to powerfully say what you want to say in your presentations, newsletters, posters, flyers or infographics.  And, I’ve learned from experience, that mixing fonts you love randomly can result in a tasteless mess and is likely not best design practice.

So, how do you efficiently discover Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 8.55.15 PM which other fonts play fabulously with your current faves?

Happily, there’s help.


Type Genius, a kind of font wizard, prompts you to select or enter a starter font and then presents an array of options in text sample form as well as authentic samples of their combined use by professional designers.

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 9.19.02 AM   Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 9.16.17 AM

Canva, one of my very favorite design tools offers The Ultimate Guide to Font Pairing as one of the lessons in its not-to-be-missed Design School.  It includes this type glossary and this slide deck of tips and tricks.





best-google-font-combinationsPicMonkey, one of my top three image editors, shares 5 Essential Rules for Font PairingScreen Shot 2015-06-25 at 9.31.59 AM, a series of practical considerations that go into picking the right font for the job, so your image has meaning and impact.

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 9.27.51 AM

Designed for designers, FontPair, by Mills Digital, allows you to play around with sample Google Font paragraphs.  It you like the paragraph you create with your own text, download the fonts directly.  FontPair also offers and illustrates daily tips for pairing fonts.

The Google Fonts Typography Project challenges font pairing creativity using the more than 650 free Google Fonts. As art of the 25×52 initiative, this collaborative, ongoing project offers inspiration using passages from Project Gutenberg’s transcript of Æsop’s Fables and photographic images from  (Another great discovery featuring the opportunity to subscribe and receive 10 new photos every 10 days.)

aesopBeautiful Web Type is a collection of inspiring examples of use of Google’s fonts.

This WebDesignersJourney post, 10 Best Google Font Combinations You Haven’t Tried Yet, shares and infographic and summary of appealing options.

Piktochart offers the infographic (of course), Four Things You Need to Know to Pair Fonts Well.Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 9.32.11 PM

Jeremiah Shoaf’s Typewolf offers a variety of fun lists and some extremely handy guides and resources.

This post from Presentation Panda discusses and categorizes font trends.

The web tool and app What the Font! allows you to submit an image and identify a font you’ve seen by finding matches in its database or by crowd-sourcing the font in its WhatTheFont Forum.

Also consider shopping these rich font aggregators:

Want to know more about how it all works?  Check out this comprehensive ebook Butterick’s Practical Typography.




Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. I love using amazing fonts. I use Dafont, and made all my headers for my blog with about 2 or 3 of them <3

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