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5 Overused Google Fonts Combinations You Should Avoid (And What to Use Instead)

Sep 3, 2018 | Branding Toolkit

If you’re designing (or redesigning) your brand, I’d argue that font selection is one of the most important decisions you have to make, particularly when it comes to your website. If the font size is too small, in a strange color, or (heaven forbid) it’s Comic-freaking-Sans, I’m going to close out that tab faster than I drink my first cup of coffee in the morning. The fonts you select–and the color and size you choose to display them at–should allow for a comfortable reading experience on any device or screen size.

When choosing those typefaces, I suggest picking only two: one font for headings and one complimentary font for body copy. Though, when it comes to type classifications (i.e. deciding whether to use two serif fonts or a sans serif font for the headings and a serif for the body copy), it really comes down to personal preference–I tend to gravitate towards a sans serif for headings and a serif for body copy, personally.

Fortunately, we’re no longer stuck in the dark days of the late 90’s where our eyes were assaulted with the banalities of Verdana, Arial, Georgia, and their ilk every time we double-clicked the Internet Explorer icon. Thanks to libraries like Google Fonts, there are now hundreds of open source, designer fonts that aren’t just available for download–they’re available for free, no strings attached.

I love Google Fonts because they’re free, easy to access and use, pair well together, and (with a few exceptions) classic, simple, and clean. Truthfully, when they’re used well, I love most of the five combinations I banish below. The only problem I have is that I see them all the time.

Related: 3 Key Practices to Building a Strong, Coherent, Trustworthy Brand

Of course, you might look at the list and wonder, “But, Jordyn, Montserrat communicates exactly who my brand is! It’s bold, strong–and that’s how I want my brand to be perceived. Why shouldn’t I use it?”

It’s a fair question, and the answer is far from groundbreaking: you want your brand to be memorable and stand out from the crowd. Montserrat is a great font, but there are other options that are just as great with similar personalities but aren’t as widely used. Sure, you can’t avoid overlap entirely (unless you create your own unique font families), but you can take measures to set yourself apart in some capacity.

With all of that said, I’ve tabulated a list of the five most common Google Font combinations that I’ve seen and suggest you’d avoid. If it’s helpful, I’ve also included some personal recommendations for replacement pairings.

1. Montserrat & Merriweather

Type classifications: sans serif / serif
Description: warm, unintrusive headings with wide, open body copy

What to use instead: Quattrocento Sans & Quattrocento

by the numbers

TO AVOID

Montserrat: featured on 7.8 million websites
Merriweather: featured on 3.4 million websites

TO USE

Quattrocento Sans: featured on 240,000 websites
Quattrocento: featured on 270,000 websites

2. Raleway & Roboto

Type classifications: sans serif / sans serif
Description: geometric, elegant headings with neutral, friendly body copy

What to use instead: Poppins & Source Sans Pro

by the numbers

TO AVOID

Raleway: featured on 7.9 million websites
Roboto: featured on 21 million websites

TO USE

Poppins: featured on 2.2 million websites
Source Sans Pro: featured on 4.5 million websites

3. Playfair Display & Lora

Type classifications: serif / serif
Description: traditional, old-style headings with moderate-contrast body copy

What to use instead: Crimson Text & Cardo

by the numbers

TO AVOID

Playfair Display: featured on 2.7 million websites
Lora: featured on 1.7 million websites

TO USE

Crimson Text: featured on 440,000 websites
Cardo: featured on 300,000 websites

4. Pacifico & Josefin Sans

Type classifications: script / sans serif
Description: bold, brush script headings with geometric, vintage body copy

What to use instead: Satisfy & Karla

by the numbers

TO AVOID

Pacifico: featured on 1 million websites
Josefin Sans: featured on 710,000 websites

TO USE

Satisfy: featured on 250,000 websites
Karla: featured on 670,000 websites

5. Lobster Two & PT Serif

Type classifications: script / serif
Description: modern brush script headings with transitional, humanistic body copy

What to use instead: Berkshire Swash & Noto Serif

by the numbers

TO AVOID

Lobster Two: featured on 310,000 websites
PT Serif: featured on 1 million websites

TO USE

Berkshire Swash: featured on 98,000 websites
Noto Serif: featured on 610,000 websites

——

How about you? What are your most eye-roll-inducing font pairings or ones that you like but just see too much? Let us know in the comments below or over on our Instagram!

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