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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.

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  • 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
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    FWIW, if you want a critique of a font pairing or leads, it'll be difficult to frame a proper question here but you can definitely ask for guidance in The Looking Glass.
    – curious
    May 15 '20 at 2:03
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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.

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  • 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
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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.

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  • 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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Since you have "reputable" in your question, I will propose one commercial solution. It is not(!) online in the sense of free access, but you can purchase it online and start using withing minutes.

I am talking about a book or ressource (regularly updated if I understand correctly) which claims to write in detail about pairing. Here is the blurb for that "chapter":

"Become a master at pairing typefaces

The Typeface Selection & Pairing section is the part of this product that I am the most proud of—I believe it is the clearest guide available about a topic that is massively misunderstood by most designers
Almost all typeface pairing guides that I’ve read are full of vague, ambiguous advice such as “seek out harmonious proportions”—I’ve put together a simple, straightforward system that anyone can use to find typefaces that pair well together
Includes a cheatsheet that shows exactly how to pair 180 of the most popular typefaces used by designers
The bundled Type Pairing Lookbooks include curated type palettes that you can steal for your own projects, whether you use Adobe Fonts (Typekit), Google Fonts, Monotype Library Subscription or indie foundries

"

I am not affiliated or connected in any way. I get mails from Typewolf and generally like what he (Jeremiah Shoaf) is doing. His prices are out of our NGO-project-budget but on his website there is enough free stuff to let you asses his competence and whether you like his "eye" for style and pairings.

Find the book here: Flawless Typography Checklist


Since nobody has mentioned it, I will add a second part to my answer. It might be too obvious, but why not have it here to be complete:

On Google Fonts, there is typically a section at the bottom of each typeface-page, giving so called "popular pairings".

Now, I do not know how other users would classify Google, concerning the "reputable" issue. I would guess, that they have paid some experts, when they set up the workings of their font website.

And we all know that "popular" does not automatically mean "good". I have not looked up, what Googles gives as "source" for their listings. But you can try finding out more. At least this is one numbers-driven ressource where you can have a look to get a feel for what is in use and what appeals to you. Sadly, both typefaces that you give as examples are not available on Google Fonts, so there is no specific pairing help in this answer.

And here is one example:

Popular pairings with Geo

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  • Thank you. typewolf is a detailed site so I have confidence in Shoaf's recommendation.
    – Doc Octal
    Jul 17 at 21:48
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My driving instructor never taught me how to drive from Hamburg to Lissabon. But I learnt how to drive safely and read signs and respect rules. So today I can do it. I feel there are as many typefaces available as major towns in Europe; who could ever publish and evaluate and curate a list of all possible pairings. Or imagine travel books, where the author would claim: "If you live at Hamburg, you should preferably visit the following five towns: Lissabon, Paris, München, Wien and Bochum."

From what I have seen here, there are not many website out there, where you select a typeface and tick a "purpose" and answer some "context" questions, and the site will tell you what to pair with.

So it might come down to learning some good principles and then just producing (small) projects and listening to peer feedback. And looking back at your earlier work and test for cringe or smile experiences.

This is why I want to add another website which is teaching some basic principles for type-pairing (for those who are beginners and who read German). This one is online and reputable, as requested, and is free:

Für Einsteiger: Wie man Schriften mischt

For those who do not read German: The visual examples are meant as positive examples. Just the very last illustration under "Schriftmischung innerhalb von Zeilen" is showing a "before" and then two examples of how to better allow/tweak for different heights, when mixing within one line.

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  • Thanks Martin. I've looked at the website you recommend. It has similar generic recommendations to other websites. I wasn't expecting a full list of font permutations :)
    – Doc Octal
    Aug 6 at 18:01

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