The comparative images that follow show the mid-weight members of the respective type families, but it should be noted that some of the books use other weights, too. And a few of the books use just one type family throughout.

The Elements of Typographic Style (fourth edition, 2013), by Robert Bringhurst
Minion (Robert Slimbach) and FF Scala Sans (Martin Majoor)

Minion and Scala Sans

Elements of Typographic StyleElements of Typographic Style, photo via Stefan Imhoff

The Geometry of Type (2013), by Stephen Coles, foreword by Erik Spiekermann
Baskerville Original (Storm) and Benton Sans (Cyrus Highsmith, Tobias Frere-Jones)

Baskerville and Benton Sans

The Geometry of TypeThe Geometry of Type, photo via Ralph Herrmann

The Complete Manual of Typography (2011), by Jim Felici
Perpetua (Eric Gill) and Syntax (H E Meier)

Perpetua and Syntax

The Complete Manual of TypographyThe Complete Manual of Typography

Type and Typography (second edition, 2011), by Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam
FF Meta (Erik Spiekermann) and Swift (Gerard Unger)

Meta and Swift

Type and TypographyType and Typography

Type on Screen (2014), by Ellen Lupton
Akzidenz-Grotesk (Berthold), Klavika (Eric Olson), and Fedra Mono (Peter Bil’ak)

Akzidenz, Klavika, and Fedra Mono

Type on ScreenType on Screen, photo via Michael Surtees

Thinking with Type (second edition, 2010), by Ellen Lupton
FF Scala Pro (Martin Majoor) and Thesis (Lucas de Groot)

Scala Pro

Thinking with TypeThinking with Type, photo via Lisa Whitaker

New Graphic Design (2014), by Charlotte and Peter Fiell, foreword by Steven Heller
Akzidenz-Grotesk (Berthold), used in various weights throughout


New Graphic DesignNew Graphic Design, photo via Rudd Studio

Designing Brand Identity (fourth edition, 2012), by Alina Wheeler
Akzidenz-Grotesk (Berthold) and Univers (Adrian Frutiger)

Akzidenz-Grotesk and Univers

Designing Brand IdentityDesigning Brand Identity, photo via Andy Sernovitz

Graphic Icons (2013), by John Clifford
Univers (Adrian Frutiger) and FF Scala (Martin Majoor)

Univers and FF Scala

Graphic IconsGraphic Icons

How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul (second edition, 2010), by Adrian Shaughnessy
Akzidenz-Grotesk (Berthold)


How to be a graphic designer without losing your soulHow to be a graphic designer without losing your soul, photo via Bibliothèque

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design (2012), by Steven Heller and Véronique Vienne
Swift (Gerard Unger) and Gotham (Hoefler & Co.)


100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design, photo via The Salt Lab

Thoughts on Design (reissue edition, 2014), by Paul Rand, foreword by Michael Bierut
Bodoni Book (Giambattista Bodoni, Morris Fuller Benton)

(I’ve not seen the original 1947 edition, but I think it was set using a different typeface. Do you know?)

Bodoni Book

Thoughts on DesignThoughts on Design, photo via Khoi Vinh

Popular Lies About Graphic Design (2013), by Craig Ward
Garamond Pro (Adobe) and Futura Medium (Linotype)

Garamond Futura

Popular Lies About Graphic DesignPopular Lies About Graphic Design, photo via Anna

Elsewhere, the Fonts In Use site is a nice resource, and the typeface combinations from the Explorations in Typography book are interesting.

“The possibilities for combining two typefaces are endless, however, a basic guideline to start with is to select 1) a serif and a sans that 2) have similar shapes. To find typefaces with similar shapes, look for ones designed by the same designer or created during the same era.”

Tim Brown wrote a short book called Combining Typefaces. And pairing typefaces in book design is a relevant read from the archives.

Are there any particular combinations you like to use? Have you read other design books with pairings you appreciate?

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November 17, 2014


Wow, my beat-up, delaminating, water-damaged copy of Elements is so old it has Syntax instead of Scala, a combination he explains in such a logical way I’ve been pairing it with Renaissance forms since.

Great compilation.

I remember getting Pagemaker in the mid 90’s and loved looking at the manual. The visual harmony was addictive and I distinctly recall “getting it” about typeface combinations. The manual was set in Myriad and Minion. That combination pulled its weight on more than a few projects over the years, and it led me on a path which including making several books on the topic.

If you search “myriad minion” in Google now, one of my articles comes up, as well as an illustration for an article I did for Smashing Magazine:

It’s strange how one area of design can be endlessly intriguing and other areas are always grunt work. Type and combinations is one of those forever-amusing areas!

I can’t find a PDF manual for PageMaker older than 7, but even then, around 1999, Adobe was still (and still might be) using the Myriad / Minion combo. It’s an exercise in function, taste, and restraint. The context (a printed manual) makes it look dated perhaps but I think this would look pretty cool on a modern responsive site – a context that was unimaginable in the thick of the glory of the days of print!

What a great blog and particularly this post. I’d love to see a similar post on good old-fashioned broadsheet print newspapers and/or editorial, text-heavy magazines.

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