Previously on this blog we outlined some of our best tips for graphic design. Now it’s time to drill down and look at the best way to select fonts to use in your designs.

Tip #1: Use contrast

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The first rule of pairing fonts is to use contrast wherever possible. When choosing different fonts, consider the style, size, weight and color. Design blogger Phillydesigner explains some of the different combinations of fonts that work well together; as a start, try matching heavy fonts with light fonts or cursive fonts with more modern fonts.

There are two types of fonts: serif fonts and sans-serif fonts. Serifs are the small lines that extend from the edges of letters. Popular serif fonts include Times New Roman and Georgia. Popular sans-serif fonts include Helvetica and Verdana.

An example of a serif font:

Serif

An example of a sans-serif font:

Sans Serif

Contrasting a serif font with a sans-serif font can work well when creating designs. Smashing Magazine suggests using a sans-serif font for your heading and serif font for your body text.  Serif fonts can be easier to read in print while sans-serif fonts tend to work best on the Web. Here’s a great infographic outlining some of the differences between serif and sans-serif fonts from the folks at Web Designer Depot.

When picking colors for your fonts, make sure you’re choosing colors that contrast with your background, so that you text is clear and easy-to-read. As we outlined in our post on the top 5 tips for graphic design, a good rule of thumb is to select a light color for your font when your background is dark, and a dark color when your background is light.

Tip #2: Pick your font palette

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In most cases, you should limit your font palette to a maximum of three fonts. Pick a font for your headings, subtitle and body or text. Douglas Bonneville has listed 19 combinations that work well with common fonts on his blog.

Title font

Your title font is often the first thing people will see in your design so it should be the largest font on your page. Your title font can also have a bit of extra character. Some things to think about when choosing a title include the nature of your brand: do you want a font that’s classical, bold or ornamental?

Subtitle font

When choosing a subtitle font, look for a simpler font that is clear and easy to read. It should be smaller than your title font. It’s a good idea to choose a subtitle font that will contrast with your title font. If your title font is bold, then choose a lighter font for your subtitle.

Body font

Your body font should be a very simple font that is easy to read. Avoid decorative fonts for your body text .

Tip #3: Know what you want to say

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What’s the design you’re creating? Is it a formal business report or a birthday card? Understanding your brand will help to choose your fonts.

Be sure to check out our Facebook page for lots of examples of different designs and styles. Do you have any other advice to share on selecting fonts? We’d love to hear it!

Zach is Head of Communications for Canva, an online platform that makes graphic design simple for everyone. He writes regularly on social media, branding and public relations and has achieved coverage in publications including Mashable, TechCrunch, PandoDaily, NBC, Forbes and The Next Web.