A particular project I'm working on (a house style) will need a serif/sans pair of fonts. Currently, I'm at the "Identify some possibles" stage, but I'm not asking for suggestions.

Examples of the sort of pairs I mean are Calluna and Calluna Sans

Calluna

and Stone Serif and Stone Sans

Stone Serif
Stone Sans

and Rotis Serif and Rotis Sans (and semi-serif and semi-sans)

Rotis Serif
Rotis Sans

I'm looking for pairs like this because it's highly likely that serif and sans will need to be mixed in the same way as the last line of the Calluna image, where an odd word might be in the other style. It's not simply a matter of headlines and body type.

Keeping the fonts used tightly paired, rather than simply mixing say Gill Sans and Perpetua or Joanna, allows the sizes to work exactly: x-height, cap-height and all proportions should be the same. It should also ensure that weight and blackness on the page are equal, and the letters are even going to be the same basic shape (unlike the two lower-case q's in Gill's fonts here).

Gill Sans Light Perpetua
Joanna

So these illustrate the problem: How do I search for pairs of fonts like this? These are three fairly obvious paired serif/sans fonts I remember, but there is such inconsistency in naming as to make searching difficult — and in any case Serif and Sans aren't particularly discriminating in a search. Is there a particular keyword I might use in searching font foundry/resellers' websites?

I realise that there is no substitute for experience, but even experienced designers won't be able to remember every pair which might be suitable, and will have to have some aid to memory: what helps here?


Calluna from Exlijbris via MyFonts.com
Stone Serif and Stone Sans from ITC via MyFonts.com
Rotis Serif and Rotis Sans from Monotype via MyFonts.com
Gill Sans Light from Monotype via MyFonts.com
Perpetua from Monotype via MyFonts.com
Joanna from Monotype via MyFonts.com

  • 1
    Note that your pairing don't actually have to be from a paired family. You can pair all sorts of serif faces with all sorts of sans faces. You may be overly constraining yourself looking only for the handful of faces that had both a serif and sans variation created under the same name. – DA01 Oct 13 '15 at 14:09
  • They don't, and I don't think the Rotis fonts go very well together; they were simply an example. But I don't think that invalidates the question. I have used the Calluna pairing before, and that works very well indeed. There may be other similar pairs. – Andrew Leach Oct 13 '15 at 14:14
  • If you Google "How to pair fonts," you will come up with many resources. google.com/search?q=how+to+pair+fonts&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8 – Lauren Ipsum Oct 14 '15 at 10:05
  • 2
    Except that I am not asking about pairing fonts. I am asking about searching for paired font families. – Andrew Leach Oct 14 '15 at 10:14
  • Robert Bringhurst's book suggests a couple of pairings. Generally pairing fonts by one typeface designer will often yield good results as they often use similar proportioning systems across a number of designs. – johnp Oct 14 '15 at 12:43
up vote 7 down vote accepted

A quick search for "fonts that come in serif and sans-serif format" returned this website: Superfamily Font Roundup: 40+ Serif and Sans Font Pairings

Reading what he wrote states:

There isn't a clearly standardized name for serif/sans-serif paired families, but from what I can find, superfamily is the term most commonly used. You may also find references that use the terms suite, hyperfamily, type system, or family group.

So I'd then search for those. A quick search of "superfamily font" found as an example:

20 versatile font families to supercharge your typography

Which uses the verbage:

The notion of an extended, organised type family (or 'superfamily' if it contains different classifications too, such as a serif and a sans serif) is a relatively new concept, and has only been around as we know it today for just over a century - but nowadays there are plenty to choose from. We've rounded up 20 of the best to help with all manner of design projects.

  • Thanks for this. Superfamily was definitely useful, and I've settled on Quadraat from FontFont, which is distinctive if a little quirky, but still pleasant and useful. The demonstration document (which I can't link to yet, unfortunately) looks really rather good, even if I do say so myself :) – Andrew Leach Oct 20 '15 at 6:43

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