Category Archives: Great Pairs

FF Absara and Klavika

Today we look at Xavier Dupré’s FF Absara paired with Eric Olson’s Klavika.

FF-Absara-and-Klavika-1You’ve doubtless seen Klavika before; its popular uses include high-profile identities and campaigns for Comcast, NBC, General Motors, others. The contemporary geometric sans finds a nice complement in FF Absara’s reductionist humanism. The faces’ carefully-placed hooks and overall low contrast serve as common threads to keep the two cohesive.

FF Absara comes in two optical sizes, a tightly-fitting headline, and text for setting body copy, above, (left and middle columns). Klavika additionally offers condensed weights for greater flexibility in editorial or other work. Together the two achieve a fully contemporary feel.
FF-Absara-and-Klavika-3 FF-Absara-and-Klavika-6 FF-Absara-and-Klavika-4 FF-Absara-and-Klavika-5 Great Pairs continue here each Wednesday.

Sovereign and Global (and Free Fonts)

A quick look today at Nick Cooke’s Sovereign and Dino dos Santos’s Global; well, it’s that, and also a made-up reason to talk about free fonts. If you’ve kept up with our weekly New Fonts posts, you’re likely already aware that certain foundries, such as exljbris or Hoftype, commonly offer a single weight of a new release free. As it happens, lots of other foundries do this too, so today I’m limiting our pairing to just fonts that appear on our new, site-comprehensive Free Fonts page. All the type shown here is available from FontShop for $0.
Sovereign is an extensively developed, relaxed-fit, semi-serif. As a text face, it offers a nicely open texture, with surprises here and there. Global’s wide-stanced, simply stylized monolinear forms serve as a support to Sovereign’s quick-stroke humanist quirks.
Sovereign-and-Global-2 Sovereign-and-Global-3
In addition to Global’s OpenType fonts being available free in the three styles above, the same faces are also free as webfonts.Sovereign-and-Global-5That’s all. Great Pairs is a regular Wednesday thing here on the blog.

Century Expanded and Reservation Wide

Let’s take a look at Morris Fuller Benton’s Century Expanded with Silas Dilworth’s Reservation Wide.
The two together have a warm, unmistakeably American feel. Century’s bright text is complemented by Reservation Wide’s confident lettering-inspired gestures. Reservation Wide was initially designed as part of a branding package for The Food Network, and can be seen in associated broadcast and print applications.
Century-and-Reservation-2 Century-and-Reservation-3
Owing to its popularity, Century’s history is quite fragmented and spans lots of different foundries’ interpretations and reappropriations of the same basic style, so if there’s something you need but don’t see here, it likely exists. The below cut of Century Expanded is one Adobe licensed to Linotype (it’s slightly more complicated than that).

That’s it. Catch Great Pairs here each Wednesday.

FF Dora and Chevin

Fun one today. Let’s look at Slávka Pauliková’s FF Dora, paired with Nick Cooke’s Chevin.



Both these, while quite capable of communicating their message in a clear, straight-faced manner, let you know they’re enjoying it. FF Dora flirts with unconventional constructions while flaunting a confident mastery of roman and italic pen-derived forms. Chevin’s pleasure comes from its rigid adherence to the templates from which its shapes are derived. Together, the two harmonize well in their text weights, and don’t hold back in their ability to dazzle with their display cuts.

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Great Pairs continue here Wednesday.

Tanger Serif and Relay

Today’s great pair is Jarno Lukkarila’s Tanger Serif and Cyrus Highsmith’s Relay.

Tanger-Serif-and-Relay-1 Tanger-Serif-and-Relay-2

Up close, Tanger Serif’s playful handwork is undeniable, but at size it softens nicely into a vigorous overall texture. With Relay, its texture is enhanced with size. The nearer you get, the clearer the liberties taken with the strokes of its geometric construction. Together, the two create a nice tension between social fluency and awkwardness. And this might be a first: Our extensively developed secondary face, Relay—no slouch mind you—even with five weights across three widths is outnumbered by the styles available in the primary body text face Tanger Serif, with 48 styles spread across three widths in eight weights.

Tanger Serif sets economically, but comes in an even narrower width should you need it. For the samples, I play it down the middle.

Great Pairs flow in each Wednesday.

Novel and Auto

Let’s take a quick look today at the pairing of Christoph Dunst’s Novel and Underware’s Auto (that’s Akiem Helmling, Bas Jacobs and Sami Kortemäki).

Novel-and-Auto-1 Novel-and-Auto-2
Novel prominently displays its calligraphic roots, particularly in its compact italic. This naturally extends a close relation to Auto, a low contrast sans with a well-developed calligraphic flair. That’s understating it. Auto is to my knowledge the first typeface to initially ship with multiple sets of italics, each in a distinct style.

Together, Auto’s young voice and Novel’s classic finish strike a chord full of depth and interest.



As is somewhat commonly the case with newer text faces, Novel has its own companion sans already, Novel Sans, complete with a condensed weight, and rounded and monospaced variants.

Cooper and Brandon Grotesque

It may surprise you to find out that Cooper Black is only one weight of Oz Cooper’s self-titled work, Cooper, which also includes a light weight, and a medium weight for text. Today we pair the Cooper family with Hannes von Döhren’s Brandon Grotesque.

Cooper-and-Brandon-Grotesque-1 Cooper-and-Brandon-Grotesque-2Together, the historic influences and softened details of each serve as a solid enough area of cohesion, while the overall difference in tone allows Brandon to ably direct the reader’s path. Just one note on Cooper—consider spacing the type more loosely to perform better at smaller sizes. The below example is set without any added spacing.
Cooper-and-Brandon-Grotesque-4 Cooper-and-Brandon-Grotesque-5

Brandon Grotesque additionally comes in a text variant, Brandon Text, for setting body copy. Inverting our relationship, here’s Cooper in the role of display face, with Brandon Text’s refit lowercase ably handling the opposing task.

Great Pairs land here each week.

Malaussène Translation and T-Star


Let’s look at a pairing of a couple of Gestalten faces, Laure Afchain’s Malaussène, and Michael Mischler’s T-Star.


Alright, technically it’s called Malaussène Translation, and that’s because it’s the first of a series that explores different kinds of stroke contrast: translation, rotation, and expansion. If you haven’t read Gerrit Noordzij’s The Stroke, doing so will clear everything up in about a fifty pages. The face comes in four weights, the standard Roman, Italic, Bold—and then—out of nowhere a super-quirky topheavy black Display weight. Its overall feel in text is fresh and refined.

T-Star is a spare, rectilinear design in five weights, all but the heaviest accompanied by its italic. It also happens to have a monospaced variant in selected weights. Together the two serve to create an updated and contemporary palette capable of refreshing the eyes of their readers.

Malaussene-Translation-and-T-Star-3 Malaussene-Translation-and-T-Star-4
Great Pairs land here each Wednesday.

Alisal and Recta

Today we look at the pairing of Matthew Carter’s Alisal with Aldo Novarese’s Recta (digitization by Canada Type).


Recta, also known as the “Italian Helvetica,” distinguishes itself from others in its class mainly by the dynamism of its character widths. Its forms give the appearance of geometric construction, while maintaining contours full of nuanced touches. What first drew me to Alisal was the forceful nature of its italic, a spare and linear updating of the Italian Renaissance hands that influenced the first italic typefaces. Note the fine details, such as the swelled terminals of the brackets and parentheses.
Working with each other, Alisal and Recta give one another sufficient opposition in structure, while retaining a strong sense of stylistic compatibility.

Great Pairs continues here Wednesday.

Tiina and Monopol

Let’s take a look today at Valentin Brustaux’s Tiina with Tomas Brousil’s Monopol.
Tiina is a sturdy, contemporary serif face, drawn from no specific tradition or family line. Its low contrast and generous fit serve to keep the face both approachable and firmly affixed to the page. As a block of text, Tiina holds together exceptionally well.
Tiina-and-Monopol-2 Tiina-and-Monopol-3
Monopol exists solely as an extra compressed, or skyline sans in a range of weights from very thin to as heavy as heavy goes. Its construction is that of the draftsman-inspired alphabets of the early to mid-twentieth century, with several well-considered exceptions in form and fit. Depending on final size, you may need to track Monopol open some. Together, Tiina and Monopol form a fine working relationship, each offering more than sufficient ground to allow its companion’s distinguishing characteristics take the role as the figure.

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Great Pairs land here each Wednesday.

Satyr and Lisboa Sans

Let’s examine the pairing of Sindre Bremnes’s Satyr and Ricardo Santos’s Lisboa Sans.

Satyr sets somewhat wide and carries itself with an air of confidence. Where its inky and mottled forms add age, its fit and sense of proportion gives it a fresh young voice. The characters of Lisboa Sans sit much more upright, generating interest at a large scale by the interesting use of counterform and snug fit. Additional exotic elements include its terminal angles, and an overall dynamism of character width. Together the two support each other in a relationship of equals, each full of small quirks, each doing its own job.
Satyr-and-Lisboa-2 Satyr-and-Lisboa-3 Satyr-and-Lisboa-4
Detail of Satyr seting body copy.
Great Pairs continues here Wednesday.

Update: Nina Stössinger left a great comment on how FF Legato makes a very cohesive companion to Satyr. Please keep the insights coming.

Swift and Tondo

Today we pair Gerard Unger’s Swift with Veronika Burian’s Tondo.
A news face, Swift’s rigid forms set economically with a tone that’s neither too harsh nor too supple. Tondo is a clear, simply structured grotesk with modestly squared curves and rounded terminals. Among its weights is a slightly condensed Signage variant. Together, the two contribute to a texture that can oscillate between taut and loose, sparkling with detail, and flat, plain and clean.


Should you need it, Swift 2.0 from Paratype has full Cyrillic support. And Tondo Corporate supports both Cyrillic and Greek.
Swift-and-Tondo-2 Swift-and-Tondo-3Swift-and-Tondo-5

Great Pairs land here each Wednesday.

Griffith Gothic and Velino Display, Text

Turning what has become the normal pairing scheme for this series on its head is Griffith Gothic and Velino Display / Velino Text. Here it’s the sans that has been engineered to hold up at small sizes, and the serif that takes up the role of the urbane, dominant voice.
Griffith-Gothic-and-Velino-1The shared formal characteristic of the pair that sold me on its compatibility was its use of stroke contrast. In Velino, Dino dos Santos uses contrast to impart stateliness and control to the characters. Chauncey Griffith’s Bell Gothic, the original archetype of Griffith Gothic, uses high contrast (most notably in its heavier weights) out of purely functional concerns, counteracting the spread of cheap ink applied to cheap paper on a fast printing press. Griffith Gothic’s designer, Tobias Frere-Jones takes advantage of this functional adaptation, turning it back into a stylistic choice. If you’re interested in the history, Nick Sherman shares a concise run-through of Bell Gothic on his website.

Griffith-Gothic-and-Velino-2 Griffith-Gothic-and-Velino-3Together, the unsophisticated gothic seems to really brighten up, following Velino’s lead.

Griffith-Gothic-and-Velino-6 Griffith-Gothic-and-Velino-4Velino has a great text variant with lower contrast for handling text sizes. Put in the service of text, Velino adds a sophisticated feel that marries well with Griffith Gothic’s plainspoken delivery.
Griffith-Gothic-and-Velino-5Great Pairs continues here Wednesday.

Nassim and Axia


Today we look at Titus Nemeth’s Nassim with Sibylle Hagmann’s Axia. Nassim was concurrently designed to work across Latin and Arabic scripts. The two are not only stylistically cohesive, but structurally complementary. By the way, if you need fonts that support both Arabic and Latin, see the Nassim Arabic Bundle.



Looking closely at Nassim, I found in Axia a nice bit of symmetry in its angular nature, high joins, seemingly arbitrary shearpoints in the curves, and overall open structure. Used to each’s advantage, their combination comes off with a contemporary feel and inviting tone.

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Williams Caslon and Figgins Sans

Williams-Caslon-and-Figgins-Sans-1For the final great pair of Wedding Month, we look at the relationship between two faces developed from English printing types, William Berkson’s Williams Caslon, and Nick Shinn’s Figgins Sans. I’ve featured Williams Caslon through the course of Wedding Month, mentioning it in the Using Type piece on non-traditional invitations. (The swash alternates included in its italic are fantastic.) Williams Caslon’s strength is text, and it was designed to reproduce by digital means the effect given by an earlier, yet not archetypal Caslon, Linotype’s hot metal Caslon of the 1920s.

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Paired with Williams Caslon is a revival of an early sans from the man who first coined the term sans serif, Vincent Figgins. Its awkward forms might upon close inspection suggest a face devoid basic table manners, but I welcome its untamed energy as does the plain yet dignified Caslon family. Working together, each introduces just enough grit to keep the guests relaxed and comfortable, but not without losing its inherent stateliness. Figgins Sans is part of the larger Modern Suite. Great Pairs continue here Wednesday.


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