Typography and Fonts

Typography is an important element of the ACF brand – it can convey trust, command attention, and manage the flow of information on the page. Typography should never steal the show from your content – use it to unobtrusively organize and support your message.

  • Preferred serif fonts: Merriweather, Cambria
  • Preferred sans-serif fonts: Arial, Calibri, Helvetica Neue, Source Sans Pro

What are serifs?

Some typefaces have serifs, which are little decorative strokes that appear on the ends of the letters. Sans means “without” in French, so sans-serif refers to typefaces without serifs. 

Below is an example of a serif font (Cambria) compared to a sans-serif font (Calibri).

Comparison of Serif Fonts to Sans Serif Fonts

Pairing Typefaces

Headings

For headings, either use the same typeface as the body text, or pair with one serif typeface such as Cambria or Merriweather. Don’t combine different serif typefaces (for example, don’t pair Merriweather with Cambria).

Vary the size and boldness of the type to make your headings stand out. Heading variations should follow an expected pattern – for example, Heading 1 should visually stand out more than Heading 2, which should stand out more than Heading 3, and so on. This creates visual hierarchy, which helps readers navigate your content more easily.

Body Text

For body text, a sans-serif typeface is preferred. Start with Arial, Calibri, Helvetica Neue or Source Sans Pro. Choose one typeface and use it for body text – don’t combine different sans-serif typefaces.

Keep It Simple

For most situations, it’s best to use no more than two typefaces on official ACF materials. Too many typefaces in a single document can add a chaotic, uncomfortable tone and undermine your message.

Try one of these harmonious typeface pairings:

  • Pair Merriweather headings with Helvetica Neue or Source Sans Pro body text
  • Pair Cambria headings with Calibri body text
  • Use a single sans-serif typeface and add emphasis and hierarchy through adjustments in boldness and size

If you have any questions, please contact us at DigitalComms@acf.hhs.gov.