Secrets to Artful Lettering | Part III

Perfectly Paired

In part one of this series we looked at font resources, free vs. purchased and personal vs. commercial use of fonts.  In part two we defined our fonts by characteristics and styles and created a reference for easy access.  Now it is time to get creative.  You can use your font reference guide to help narrow down the perfect choice(s) for the project at hand--easy peasy.  But, what if one font just won't do?  

There are various reasons you may want to use two or more fonts on a single project.  These include emphasis, impact, interest, engagement or restraint.  Let's look at each of these individually.
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Take this approach when you want one or more words to be dominant.  For example, with the phrase "Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth".  It would make sense for "God" to be the most prominent word with "glory", "highest" and "His" taking a secondary position followed by the remaining words playing a supporting role.  The dominant position can be established by using an attention-grabbing font.  This can be accomplished through size, weight or complexity--any characteristic that makes the primary word stand apart from the rest of the phrase.  I've chosen a strong but uncomplicated font that stands out.  I then selected a more ornate font befitting of "glory" for my secondary text.  To maintain continuity I repeated the same font used for God but in a lighter weight. I could further enhance selected words through strategic use of color.


When you have a short two or three-word phrase and want to convey a particular feel, choose fonts based on the desired impact. For "hello" I have selected a simple hand written print font that is straight forward with no frills. Then the greeting becomes softer with my use of script for "darlin'".  You can sense the shift from the direct greeting to smooth, sweet-talking charm.  The use of darlin' vs. darling keeps it casual.  The swash used to underline hello and extend to darlin provides both a connection and transition between the words adding the weight of "darlin'" to "hello" and leading the viewer straight to the more impactful "darlin'", which sets the overall tone.


The use of a single font, especially for longer phrases, becomes boring and creates a static vibe.  If a single font is used you can create stronger and weaker areas through use of size and weight along with a mix of all caps or upper and lowercase letters. Alternatively, mixing fonts like I've shown with the first example make a more visually pleasing composition.


By modifying the word beautiful, replacing "ea" with "yo" the word "you" is created. This change causes the viewer to engage and internalize the sentiment making it personal. Using contrasting fonts makes YOU the focus and also clarifies that the misspelling was intentional. The flourish on the "e" serves to unify the script segments as well as connect through "you" to flow as a single word.


Sometimes you need to mix various fonts or different versions of the same font within a single phrase to keep an ornate font from becoming overwhelming. In this instance, mixing an ornate font with a similar but simpler font provides relief for the viewer, resulting in a more pleasing composition. 

Perfect Pairings

Perhaps you struggle with knowing which fonts play well together. Use contrast to avoid competition.  For example, two script fonts will compete, with neither being dominant because they are too similar.  Conversely, A script font paired with a casual hand written print or a crisp, clean print font will be both interesting and balanced with each style enhancing the other. Following are a few tried and true combinations that I frequently use together.  Note: Each style listed below is a link to fonts for your study.

Opposites Attract

Finishing Touches

Once your text layout is complete you can use flourishes to connect letters, plus add to, subtract from and modify letters to further enhance the overall composition.

Up Next...

For a professional finish there's still some fine tuning to be done and that is covered in the fourth and final segment of this series on the secrets to artful lettering.