I am not a font expert but I do understand that font choice is important and I really want and need to do this properly.

How do I find reliable, quality resources that can tell me exact font or fonts that are appropriate to pair up specifically with either of the following body fonts:

  1. Geogrotesque Condensed by Emtype
  2. Choice Sans by Terminal Design

Those two fonts have been shortlisted because they are not the run-of-the-mill fonts and fit the design brief of fitting technical information into a small space, probably for screen-based viewing more often than in print.

Unfortunately all the guides I've found so far mainly advise either definitely using whatever font your word processor defaults to, or definitely not using typical word processor fonts. Contradictorily, the latter only ever seem to give pairing advice for run-of-the-mill fonts, none of which appear to my untrained eye to be even remotely similar to the two fonts above.

What I need is something to tell me, for the two fonts above, specific companion font choices or at least a highly specific description of appropriate font characteristics.

I understand that asking for recommendations isn't allowed on here, so I hope that asking for help to find resources which give specific recommendations is allowed. If that's not allowed either, I hope that someone can advise me how to rephrase this post so that it becomes acceptable. I want to be a good citizen.

I have read this question and this article it points to.

Unfortunately those resources don't give specific answers to my fonts and they require too much pre-existing font expertise. One day I would love to become a font expert, but for now I just need to know specific fonts or exact font characteristics.

I'm at a loss as to where to look on the internet for reliable information. I've found plenty of advice whose provenance I can't judge. I'm also at a loss where to ask for help from people who genuinely understand font design.

  • Pre-emptively, if this question is considered too opinion-based, would whoever votes to close it please advise me how to improve it. Thanks in advance. – Doc Octal May 14 '20 at 22:09
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    You won't find anything "exact" for pairing fonts. It's not an exact science like mathematics. There are no formulas. Font pairing is subjective. It's like art. Sure there are guidelines, but nothing is set in stone. – Billy Kerr May 14 '20 at 22:21
  • There is something out there... written by Hoefler fonts if I recall properly. – curious May 14 '20 at 23:21
  • Thanks @curious If you mean this link it is interesting and even a beginner like me can see it's quality information. It's understandably limited to their own fonts so sadly it's not specific enough to guide me to what I need. Alas I just don't know enough about fonts to be able to put that information into practice. – Doc Octal May 15 '20 at 0:23
  • Thanks @billykerr. I accept it's not an exact science but trying to find out is very chicken and egg. Where do I start, especially when it's hard for me to tell if a particular source gives quality advice? Things I've found so far are either hopelessly vague or for experts only. It's frustrating; I feel like I'm ill yet not allowed to simply ask a doctor what the answer is, instead it's either 'try something yourself' despite having no knowledge or 'go study for years first.' I'm sure someone can advise me but I can't find a reliable peer-reviewed website where I can ask for recommendations. – Doc Octal May 15 '20 at 0:38

I'd like to mention that it is not really a necessity to pair typefaces at all. Working with a single typeface (in two or three distinct weights maybe) is totally fine. Generations of Swiss designers (among many others) have created some of the worlds best designs and CI with just a single typeface. IMO font pairing is suitable for classic sans/serif combinations, or if fancy headline fonts are required, but it should never be compulsorily.

For real world font pairing examples I'd recommend Fonts In Use. You can search for specific fonts like Geogrotesque, and find out how others have applied them.

  • Thanks AAGD. I considered just using Geogrotesque or Choice Sans but I prefer the idea of a two-font design and I'm less keen on Geogrotesque in larger sizes, though I lack the terminology to explain why. I wanted to keep my initial question short so I didn't put people off answering so I didn't mention I had already looked at Fonts In Use. I couldn't decide whether it's a curated collection of fine examples. If so, great. If not, just because someone has paired them doesn't mean it's a 'good' match and I lack the knowledge to judge. – Doc Octal May 15 '20 at 10:18

I think this is a great question, as it describes the unique position design takes between Art and Craft/Trade.

While there are plenty of generally accepted rules in design (colour harmonies, readability, use of grids...) there is always an element of aesthetic choice to design work. Often this is what makes the work exceptional. Take David Carsons work, for example.

You can choose to match typefaces based on generally accepted rules. As pointed out in the articles form smashing magazine and Hoefler that you mentioned, you will need to take a look at the properties of the typefaces you want to combine.

General advice is:

  • that you should avoid pairing fonts that are too similar
  • to combine a very decorative/ornamental face with a more neutral one
  • use typefaces for their intended use (e.g. don't use display fonts for body text)

this list can be extended indefinitely…

But in the end choosing which typefaces to combine in your work is ... design.

This is the actual (artistic part of the) work you're doing. And the most fun.

As for resources that offer font-pairing recommendations: Given the vast amount of typefaces available today, it is very hard to cover all of them, this is why you will mostly find advice on the most popular fonts.

  • Thanks @dom Your opening sentence summarizes the situation beautifully. Based on your answer I feel I should start by getting a technical description of the two fonts I'm interested in and then trying to find pairing advice specific to those exact 'types' of fonts (sorry I don't know the correct term to use there, category? class?) – Doc Octal May 15 '20 at 10:24

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