• Nadine Hanafi

Typography For Design Dummies: The Beginner's Guide to Font Pairing

Wanna make more “professional-looking” presentations?

I’ve got 3 words for you. Fonts. Fonts. Fonts.

And the one skill you need to master is font pairing.

In this blog post, I explain what font pairing is and I show you examples of how you can use this super simple trick to improve your slide design INSTANTLY.

I want you to think about the way you use fonts in your presentations right now. You probably view your font choice as a purely functional decision.

Or maybe you don’t even think about it and just stick with the default font that came with your PowerPoint template.

Your choice of font can easily be overlooked as a marginal choice with little impact.

But this could not be further from the truth.

How you display text on your slide affects readability and the overall appearance of your presentation. A lot.

Here are some real examples of how combining fonts, color and imagery can instantly transform a slide and give it that professional polish and creative edge that you would normally hire a designer for:

These designs may seem out of reach right now but the secret to creating slides like these is easier than you might think.

It’s called “Font Pairing” and it’s how you can give any slide an instant face lift.

What the heck is “Font Pairing”, you ask?

Font pairing is the process of mixing and matching fonts in your presentation.

This adds visual variety to your slides but more importantly it allows you to break up your content and emphasize different pieces of text by using different font types and sizes.

How and why would you use this trick?

Let me show you some examples.

Example #1:

You can use font pairing and font size to turn a slide with plain paragraphs into something that is more appetizing to read and easier on the eyes.

Doing this not only makes your slide look better, it makes it feel like there’s less content to read.

And when it seems like there’s less content to read, our lazy brains are more inclined to want to read it. That’s just how our brains work.

Example #2:

You can use font pairing to create more beautiful title slides that don’t look like your run-of-the-mill, lame PowerPoint template title slides.

Going for a customized title slide gives you the opportunity to make a great first impression: it basically says “hey, I put extra work into making this presentation awesome for you”. Your audience notices that and in turn rewards you with their full attention.

When you use the default, same ’ol title slide, your audience will assume that this just “another of those lame slideshows” and they prepare their brains to go into a catatonic state for the next 20 minutes.

Example #3:

You can use font pairing to turn a plain sentence or short paragraph into a more visually exciting slide.

When you do this you’re not only making your slide look more appealing, you are also making the content of that slide more memorable.

Why? Because you are turning plain text into a visual by adding color and contrast and as you know visual displays of information are much easier to process and recall than plain text.

A quick word of caution about font pairing:

When used properly, font pairing looks nice and sleek. But, beware!

Font pairing is dangerous territory if you don’t know what you are doing.

Mixing the wrong fonts can make for a glorious design disaster.

To be safe, I recommend using no more than two main “TITLE” and “SUBTITLE” fonts, one simple “BODY” font that is clean and easy to read and occasionally one “HIGHLIGHT” font to draw attention to keywords and or statements.

Like so:

Want more presentation tips like these? Check out my book Slide Therapy.

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