Thursday, September 21, 2006

Compatible Typefaces

Remember the rule? Too many fonts make your work look like a kid in a toybox. It's important in any publication to stick to no more than a couple of contrasting fonts. And in defining a corporate 'identity', our goal is to lock in one basic type family with multiple weights. Let's bend the rules just a fraction... designer David Whitbread says that some organisations choose a "support" typeface as well. It may add un-necessary complications, and needs care if you're going to handle it with success. The key is... contrast. For typefaces to work together well, they've got to be decidedly different. Here's Whitbread again (p185, The Design Manual):
"The secret of successful combination of typefaces seems to be the ability to maintain several contrasts between them. Look for at least two contrasts when selecting your 'worker' and 'special' faces. The stronger the contrast, the more effective the combination will be. You can contrast:
* their form: serif (like Times, with little tags on the stems), sans serif (like Arial, without tags), script or decorative
* their weight
* their scale
* their spacing (wide or narrow)
* their slant (Roman or italic)
* their shape (condensed or normal)
* their case (upper or lower)

Whatever you do, avoid using two different sans serif fonts on a page. For example, don't use both Eras and Arial - they look similar, but the small differences clash disasterously.

At MPC, it was time to supplement our "house style" with a contrasting "special" font. I found "Baby Bowser" at ... and I think it works superbly with the Bell Gothic family. Leave your comments and tell me what you think.

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