Timeless sans-serif typefaces for any print-based or online projects.
Sans-serif typefaces are an essential tool for any graphic designer, either as a display typeface, or within body text. Its clean lines make for easy reading at great distances. A good example of this is Jock Kinneir’s and Margaret Calvert’s Transport typeface, used on the UK’s road signs.
Many sans-serif typefaces were developed between the 1920s and the 1950s. It is also worth noting that the development of sans-serif typefaces stretch further back than the 1920s. Prior to the arrival of Helvetica and Gill Sans, there was one typeface which spawned several other variations: Akzidenz-Grotesk. Hence Helvetica’s original name being Neue Haas Grotesk.
We at Dreamkatcha have come up with five essential typefaces of a sans-serif variety. Each of the typefaces are available commercially (or freely) for print and internet-based projects. You may have some of them on your PC.
Akzidenz-Grotesk is the grandaddy of the sans-serif typefaces. Created in 1896 by H. Berthold, it was designed for use in display materials. For instance, newspaper advertisements and posters. 120 years on, it can hold its own today.
Designer: H. Berthold (1896)
The most celebrated typeface is Max Miedinger’s family of Helvetica typefaces. It has been used on countless designs and works well in body text form as well as poster designs and websites. Unsurprisingly, due to its popularity, it inspired an offspring of similar typefaces thereafter. Univers is claimed to be a copy, but Univers predated Helvetica by three years.
It has also inspired Microsoft’s Arial typeface, created in 1982. More recently, Google’s Roboto and Noto typefaces from 2011 to 2016. The bold variant is also the typeface of choice for the Superdry clothing label.
Designer: Max Miedinger (1957)
Compared with Helvetica, Univers is a slightly more restrained typeface. The most subtle differences being more angular numbers and similarly rounded Rs. Designed by Adrian Frutiger, it has been referred to as ‘the dinner jacket’ of typefaces, compared with ‘the jeans’ of Helvetica. It is a great all-round typeface for body text as well as headings.
Designer: Adrian Frutiger (1954)
The most famous use of the Gotham typeface was the 2008 US Elections campaign for Barack Obama. Its leanings have more of a nod to Futura and Gill Sans than Helvetica and Arial. Created by Tobias Frere-Jones, it was inspired by the designer’s yearning for the New York City of his youth. A trip to the Port Authority Bus Terminal also inspired its design (most notably the typeface on the Eighth Avenue facade).
In bold type, a fantastic typeface for display materials and headings.
Designer: Tobias Frere-Jones (2000)
The Futura typeface, designed by Paul Renner in 1927, was inspired by Roman style uppercase text. There are numerous variants of the Futura typeface, with the bold and condensed weights a great choice for headlines. The light and medium weights are suitable for body text.
Without the Futura family of typefaces, we wouldn’t have had Frutiger, Avenir, ITC Avant Garde, and Century Gothic. It is almost as influential as Helvetica for the number of spin-offs.
Designer: Paul Renner (1927)
Dreamkatcha, 17 November 2016.