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Aug 04

My 10 favorite typefaces

2008 at 01.58 pm posted by Veerle Pieters

As someone who has a soft spot for typography in general, it is a rather difficult taks to choose my top 10 favorite typefaces. It feels a bit like shifting through all those nice (600 and more) entries I received for the ‘What is Graphic Design’ poster competition from a while ago. What a tough job that was selecting the winners. So here we go…

I have to admit, as you'll see my general preference goes towards sans serif typefaces as they include 6 out of 10. The reason why is probably because of their fixed clean shape and lines. Although the opposite is true, when I choose a serif or script, because then I will look specifically for those extra's. In certain serifs, elegancy is what make them look so absolutely perfect, not to mention their ligatures. Pure beauty and perfection. As for scripts, these are the typefaces with an extra personality as if they live their own life.

The Sans Serifs

Chalet (by House Industries)

Chalet by House Industries

Neutraface (by house Industries)

Neutraface by house Industries

Tarzana Narrow (by Emigre)

Tarzana Narrow (by Emigre)

Verlag by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Verlag by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Verlag by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Verlag by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Verlag by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Verlag by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Verlag by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Verlag by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Bryant by Process Type Foundry

Bryant by Process Type Foundry

Bryant Condensed by Process Type Foundry

Bree by TypeTogether via FontShop

Bree by TypeTogether via FontShop

The Serifs

Mrs Eaves (by Emigre)

Mrs Eaves by Emigre

Requiem by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Requiem by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Requiem by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Requiem by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Requiem by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Requiem by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Requiem by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

The Scripts

Soda Script (by Emigre)

Soda Script by Emigre

August by Alias via Veer

August by Alias via Veer

What to choose?

The trend in typefaces aren't like fashion, they don't change that quickly. This list is how I feel now, but within a year I might have a bit of different idea and opt for a different selection. Choosing the appropriate typeface for a project is as important as the design and layout itself. Not only choosing them carefully but also how you apply them is such an important part that it can make or break your design. Some typefaces can be directly associated with packaging or a product, or with a newspaper or magazine. A perfect example of what I mean is the script typeface Soda, I associate this typeface immediately with a bottle of soda. The shape, its style, elegance and its name, it's so perfect. Hopefully the resources below will give you some insight and inspiration to improve your designs.

Inspiration food





permalink this comment Mark Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 02.24 pm

I have recently become interested in typography - the more you see, the more you appreciate the power and impact they have in all forms of design.
Seeing new examples all the time, I just wish they were all free! I could buy tonnes of them if money was no object, though there are some excellent free fonts available.

Excellent list you have provided here, Requiem by Hoefler & Frere-Jones is an absolute favourite straight away - stunning.



permalink this comment Rami Kayyali Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 02.40 pm

I’d like to see your favorite list of body text typefaces. Most of the ones above can’t be used for long texts.

Arial, Helvetica and Times are completely out of the question as they’ve been used and abused for years.

My current choice is ParaType’s FreeSet[1]. It’s an elegant sans-serif, it’s perfectly readable at 10pt, it’s demi version looks good in headlines.

What’s your take?




permalink this comment David Airey Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 02.44 pm

Thanks for these, Veerle. I enjoy learning what typefaces other designers appreciate.



permalink this comment Jerry Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 03.42 pm

Great list!

I think the link to Mrs Eaves should be:

[Veerle: I fixed the link thanks]



permalink this comment Harmen Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 03.43 pm

It’s a beautiful list. Nice to see the typefaces in a little piece of art :)

By the way, “My top 10 favorite typefaces” is a pleonasm ^^

[Veerle: I get paid by word count :o) ]



permalink this comment Michael Jackson Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 03.54 pm

I’d looked through the Emigre collection before reading this article, but hadn’t noticed Tarzana Narrow! Thanks for bringing this beautiful font to my attention. Love it!



permalink this comment Paul Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 04.01 pm

very nice list, an important part of the design process which can be skimmed over much of the time. Cheers



permalink this comment johno Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 04.16 pm

Some lovely faces. Particularly pleased to see H&FJ’s Requiem in there. Requiem italic is, in my opinion, one of the most beautifully drawn italics ever—it’s sublime.



permalink this comment Mig Reyes Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 04.25 pm

Veerle, great list.

H&FJ, Emigre, Process, and House Industries? WIn, win, win, and win! Currently loving “Archer” by H&FJ right now.



permalink this comment Andre Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 04.29 pm

That’s a list of lovely typefaces, for sure! Requiem is a true beauty; from H&FJ. I also like Archer.



permalink this comment Rob McDougall Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 04.33 pm

thanks! great timing! I’m looking for some new fonts as we speak, these are some great inspirations :)



permalink this comment billseymour Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 05.04 pm

Great list Veerle, thanks.

I was wondering if the ‘design community’ at large has any thoughts about the practice of selling fonts only as a group (as House Industries does, for example). This policy generates sales of $175 at a pop for Chalet, but loses sales of buyers who only want 1 font and who would pay a premium for it (ie, rather than 175/10=17.50, to instead pay 50-75 for the single font).

I love the House fonts, but I am put off by the ‘take it or leave it’ grouping policy.

(BTW, I don’t want to start an argument with this post- I’m just asking if the subject has come up).



permalink this comment Don Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 08.50 pm

Most of the typefaces presented here are doing too much of their own IMO, especially when used for larger amounts of text (though I guess you do not exactly suggest that).

I am a big fan of neutral, “classic” typefaces like Frutiger, or a bit more recent and “friendlier”, Myriad. To me they are versatile, robust and valuable consumer goods that work well in many different situations.

A seasoned colleague of mine used to say several years back: “All you need is Helvetica and Times”. I’m basically with him except that I do like to have a bit more elegance in typography (for which, given today’s options, the aforesaid are not the perfect choice).

Other than that, I’d like to say YES, typography is a matter of fashion also. We owe today’s huge variety of typefaces to the intention of simply doing things differently, often so rather than doing things better.

We could still be printing with cleaned-up designs of Jenson or Garamond (which actually happens all the time), had there not emerged type foundries that wanted to sell something. So they needed something new. Enter thousands of Antiquas that are no better than the tried-and-true classics.

Now look at food: Someone wants to sell oatmeal, but he wants you to buy his brand instead of the other one. So he needs a different typeface and different colors. But in the end it’s still oatmeal and will be so 50 years from now when all those fancy designs and funny typefaces have become outdated.

This is probably not the best place to utter such an opinion, but I feel much of today’s advertising (and with it much graphic design) is a detour from what people really need. In time, we’ll learn.



permalink this comment Thomas Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 09.05 pm

Great list, I love the first font “Chalet (by House Industries)”.



permalink this comment Eugen Wirz Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 09.26 pm

Cool fonts, i wish there would be free.

@Rami: Most of them are designed for other things like headings or logotexts, ain’t they?



permalink this comment Rafa Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 10.47 pm

My favourites.



permalink this comment xxdesmus Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 11.01 pm

No love for Helvetica? ;)



permalink this comment Steve Mon Aug 4, 2008 at 11.12 pm

Very cool. Now if only they were FREE.



permalink this comment Jackie Tue Aug 5, 2008 at 01.10 am

I love the Requiem font too - I have seen that before but didn’t know the name of it. The Soda Script and Mrs. Eaves are very nice also - even if they are all decorative.

I think that Bryant can be used for body text.



permalink this comment Calvin Gilbert Tue Aug 5, 2008 at 03.22 am

Great “typeface” post Veerle! I will have to look into getting some of these soon.



permalink this comment Tracey Grady Tue Aug 5, 2008 at 04.01 am

Thanks, there are some great examples here which I have been aware of before. I especially like Requiem, Bryant and Neutraface.



permalink this comment billseymour Tue Aug 5, 2008 at 08.06 am

I found Don’s post interesting; a few thoughts after reading it:

I am *so* in agreement with Don on the advertising of products based on perceived differences (the New! Improved! oatmeal example is a very good one). Here the product is doing the same ‘task’ (being oatmeal), and the differences are in the ‘frills’ (the box, being ‘instant’, etc).

In the case of typography, I feel a better analogy might be architectural columns (not that I know much technically about them!): a column really has 2 ‘functions’ or ‘elements’: (1) it holds something up; and (2) it is an architectural object, with form, shape, color, which the viewer reacts to aesthetically.

Enter typefaces: Don, I think, has focused perfectly on objective (1), the functionality; but there is still the aesthetic, emotional aspect, of a typeface being an ‘artistic object’, to consider.

Would ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Aliens’ posters have looked artistically the same if, say, Times Roman had been used? Well, you get the idea.

Balance between these goals is necessary, and also understanding when one goal is more important than the other. Using the ‘Aliens’ example: I would never expect to see that title typeface used as the font for book or newspaper text- here, functionality, clarity, readability is paramount. I see a problem (and this is probably also Don’s idea) when some folks ‘fall in love’ with the aesthetic element of a typeface at the cost of meeting the ‘functional’ demands of a project.

Last thought: I also really like the Chalet set- the aesthetic is great (I am an art deco fan), AND the functionality of the faces is very strong.



permalink this comment Laurens Tue Aug 5, 2008 at 12.37 pm

Great selection. I could not make a top 10 list probably :)

Chalet is my fav one!



permalink this comment pirate designer Tue Aug 5, 2008 at 07.36 pm

please share the love with the rapidshare links…  just a joke, nice post, thanks!



permalink this comment frank Tue Aug 5, 2008 at 07.37 pm

Great list of typefaces.




permalink this comment sc Tue Aug 5, 2008 at 09.05 pm

they are very nice and professional. it would be especially nice if you could make or point a link to a list of 20 dollar fonts. now how about some nice 20 dollar fonts. I am not rich yet and i dont want to put it on my company card.



permalink this comment Gis Tue Aug 5, 2008 at 09.34 pm

I am really liking Tarzana Narrow :D I have found out that I have a couple of basic fonts I love, like Benton and Helvetica, and for the rest I have like a seasonal taste, I like some that I don’t like a couple of months after, a bit sad haha but well xD



permalink this comment Fox Wed Aug 6, 2008 at 05.46 am

Great list.
Why these aren’t FREE?



permalink this comment Edward Lamb Wed Aug 6, 2008 at 09.35 am

Nice selection. However, you missed our H&J’s latest offering - Archer. Gorgeous!



permalink this comment Fred Mccoy Wed Aug 6, 2008 at 05.08 pm

You have a pretty good list their.  Personally, I’m more of a fan of lesser known-yet high quality fonts such as Synthetique



permalink this comment Veerle Thu Aug 7, 2008 at 01.45 pm

Rami Kayyali said:

I’d like to see your favorite list of body text typefaces. Most of the ones above can’t be used for long texts.

Apart from Requim, Verlag, Mrs. Eaves and Bryant which I believe are prefect for body text (for print), I like the Avenir a lot, Myriad Pro or Frutiger as sans serifs. As for serifs I like Perpetua or Berkeley. In the 90is I was very fond of (ITC) Garamond, by the influence of Apple I’m afraid ;) I also like the Goudy a lot. It’s an elegant typeface and considered as one of the classics really. Then there is the Plantin. I believe they’re both perfect for books. You see it’s really hard to say what my top 10 is, because there is such a variety in usage and style, each typeface has its purpose. I chose very different styles on purpose, to present a wide variety. Exactly like I said in my intro, it’s a tough job :)

Don said:

Most of the typefaces presented here are doing too much of their own IMO, especially when used for larger amounts of text (though I guess you do not exactly suggest that).

No I do not suggest that indeed. I believe a proper usage of the typefaces is very important. As a designer you should know exactly what is good and bad here. I don’t agree with “All you need is Helvetica and Times”, how boring would that be. Not that I don’t like Helvetica or Times, I do like them and I believe you can achieve really great designs with both, but I agree with billseymour, typefaces have an aesthetic, emotional aspect and not just a functional purpose. I believe it’s the designer who needs to do a proper execution in his/her design.

billseymour said:

I was wondering if the ‘design community’ at large has any thoughts about the practice of selling fonts only as a group…

Some typeface can be sold alone because they only exists in 1 variation. Think of the ones you’ll use for logos for example, or the rather exotic ones. Most of the time I need at least 2 or 4 variations: book or regular (or light), italic, bold and bold italic. Though the sans serifs are usually not nice in italic and I wish I could by a package without these (if they are included). I would prefer to have more options for sure, especially for the big packages. For Chalet for instance I’ve never used the 1960 variations. On the other hand the family is very wide for its $175 price. In general I would say, yes smaller packages would be preferable, in groups of 2 and then also have an attractive price for the bigger packages, the bigger the lower the price. Sometimes this is the case already, but sometimes unfortunately not.

Fox said:

Why these aren’t FREE?

Because these are designed by talented typeface designers. Quality is never free and people need to be paid for their work. Simple as that. As a designer I have tried to design a typeface myself and I know it’s damn hard and it takes hours of work just to come up with the basic shape. Then I’m not talking about numbers, ligatures,... and refining them and do the proper kerning. That takes weeks or maybe more. They don’t just fall from the sky :) There are enough free typefaces out there, you’ll find loads of them, but you’ll have to lower your expectations I’m afraid.



permalink this comment funnygirl Thu Aug 7, 2008 at 01.49 pm

great, usefull 0_0



permalink this comment billseymour Thu Aug 7, 2008 at 05.47 pm

Veerle said:

They don’t just fall from the sky :)

Typefaces don’t fall from the sky? (Next you’ll be saying something about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny…)

I think there is a bit of a ‘disconnect’ in many people’s thinking about fonts. We know that a music CD or movie DVD is an intellectual property asset; somehow, fonts are both recognized as a ‘creative item’, yet also are often thought of as ‘commodities’ (since we get a bundle with our OS, or with CS3, etc)- so we often want the ‘new toy’, but don’t understand why it costs so much.

I’ve also rethought my ‘bundle of fonts’ comment a bit- in case of Chalet, if even 5 of the variants are useful to a designer, then 175 is a very good price (175/5=35 per font used). In contrast, a set like House’s Typography of Coop, which has very different fonts packaged together, is more problematic- it is far more likely that a potential buyer might only want 1 or 2 of the fonts (the bundle costing, I believe, 225), making a ‘per font’ cost quite high.



permalink this comment Dave Fri Aug 8, 2008 at 11.27 am

Nice list.

I had been using Neutraface but decided on using Gotham as its roots were less conspicuous.

Verlag and Chalet I am using a lot. Verlag is very flexible.

My other workhorse is Freight by Joshua Darden. I wrote a small piece on it here: A typeface for all seasons



permalink this comment Guido Rosso Sat Aug 9, 2008 at 09.04 pm

I’ve been trying to find an alternative to Trajan as it’s splattered all over nowadays… and Requiem looks like it may be the one!



permalink this comment Thomas Eilander Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 11.41 am

Very nice fonts! I wish I could buy them all… unfortunately I’m not that rich…



permalink this comment Ryan Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11.17 pm

Some brilliant fonts there. Thanks for the list. I really like Mrs Eaves



permalink this comment Keral Patel Tue Sep 2, 2008 at 07.39 pm

I was looking for some fashionable fonts for my new fashion site and the very first thing I saw above in the image caught my eye :) Thanks for sharing great list. It will help me in days to come.

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