In our last post we explored briefly the history of typography and how typefaces have evolved over time. We touched on pairing fonts, and here we will delve a bit deeper into this subject.
When pairing fonts you want to have visual harmony. Contrast don't conflict. If you have a perfect serif font for your design you may want to see if there is a sans-serif version of that font to compliment it. Take style, weight, colour and size into consideration.
You may want to evoke a certain energy with two typefaces and this can be done by using two fonts that have complementary moods. One bold and brash sans-serif font combined with a graceful chic serif font might create a great interplay that gives off a unique vibe.
The biggest mistake you can make when pairing two fonts is creating redundancy or having the two fonts fight with your eyes for attention. Make sure each font serves a purpose and using weight and size- create a hierarchy so that each font plays its position.
Hierarchy is another major important aspect of type that can be overlooked or under appreciated, especially with informational print design like posters or invitations but also on the web where the size, colour and weight of fonts provide visual cues for users to interact.
According to Gestalt psychology (from where the phrase "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts" comes), the mind forms a global whole with self-organizing tendencies. Visually our mind groups things which are similar. Some of the main laws of Gestalt psychology are Proximity (how close or far apart elements are), Similarity (with respect to shape, colour, shading, etc), Closure (forming incomplete or implied shapes that the mind perceives as whole), and Symmetry (creating visual coherence by forming around a central point symmetrically which is pleasing to the eyes).
All of these things must be considered when using type to get across information to someone reading print material or guiding a web-user through a website.
To learn a bit more about Gestalt theory, check out "Gestalt Principles of Perception" on YouTube by Michael Britt. (www.ThePsychFiles.com)