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I want to use for chapter titles/section a sans-serif font and for the normal text a serif font.

To be consistent:

  • Should page header/footer then be seen as section text (sans-serif) or body (serif)?

    • I assume page header/footer is section so sans-serif?
  • Should footnotes then be seen as section text (sans-serif) or body (serif)?

    • I assume body text so serif?
  • What often goes wrong when combining sans-serif and serif fonts? What to take into account? E.g. do you see class A (and which class) of text being typeset in sans serif where you would expect serif? What else?

  • Hi jos, welcome to the site! For best results, you should keep your questions focused on one specific thing. I think your first two questions in the list can be tied together but the last one is too separate. – JohnB Mar 4 '15 at 22:15
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Your questions are very subjective and you can only get subjective answers to these kind of questions. It all depends on your typographic concept.

I assume that with header you mean the running header? If so I'd go with sans-serif for the header, if you also use it for the titling (on the book-cover) and the headlines, maybe you can even set the header in grey so it doesn't distract the reader. For footnotes I used both, the typeface of the headlines and the typeface for the body-text, that really depends on what you think looks better! Most of the time I go with the body-text-typeface.

My main tip for font-combination (for a book) is to combine characteristics. Make sure they have the same x-height, compare the lowrecase a and the lowercase g, do they match?

Maybe you want to read "the big book of font combinations" by Douglas Bonneville to get some inspiration. You can also find a short guide on that on his website: 29 principles for making great font combinations, or you might want to read the suggestions by Hoefler & Co on this topic in their article four techniques for combining fonts

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