TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Tue Jul 17 12:37:47 EDT 2018

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Sans serif classification

Several groups are generally distinguished:

  • Grotesque or Grotesk: These are the early sans-serif designs, but also include the 20th century work horses, Helvetica and Univers. Among the earlier ones, we list Akzidenz Grotesk, Bureau Grot, Grotesque, Franklin Gothic and Royal Gothic. The latter typefaces are sometimes classified as Gothic (two-story lowercase g, angled strokes on C and S).
  • Humanist sans such as Johnston, Gill Sans, Frutiger and its copy, Myriad. These typefaces are alive with variations in width and calligraphic influences. Some appreciate them for beauty, others for legibility.
  • Geometric sans: These typefaces are pregnant with geometric shapes, and are in some (most) cases less legible. On the other hand, they are more effective on posters and headlines. The main families in this category include Renner's Futura, and Lubalin's ITC Avant Garde. Other styles include Gotham, Spartan and Century Gothic.
  • Neo-grotesque, transitional or realist: These are modern sans typefaces, often rather dull with little variation in line widths and lacking any extravagant features. Arial, Standard and Bell Centennial are in this group.
  • Square Gothic, in the style of Bank Gothic: low contrast typefaces with straight lines and curved or rounded corners. Macho look.
In the DIN 16518 German classification, all sans typefaces are globbed together under the name Gruppe VI: Serifenlose Linear-Antiqua.

Credit for some images below: Danielle West.

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Typeface Classification ⦿ Avant Garde typefaces ⦿ DIN ⦿ Eric Gill and his typefaces ⦿








file name: H Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk 1896 Poster by Danielle West 2014


file name: H Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk 1896 Poster by Danielle West 2014b


file name: H Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk 1896 Poster by Tony Pham 2017


file name: H Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk 1896 Poster by Tony Pham 2017b


file name: U R W Franklin Gothic after Morris Fuller Benton 1902


file name: Morris Fuller Benton Franklin Gothic 1902 Poster by Zekai Saltoglu 2016


file name: Monotype Franklin Gothic Extra Condensed after Morris Fuller Benton 1904


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 01


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 02


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 03


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 04


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 05


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 07


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 08


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 09


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 12


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 14


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 15


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 16


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 17


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 Poster by Bill Dawson 2015


file name: Monotype Century Gothic 1991 Poster by Erika Davies 2016


file name: Monotype Century Gothic 2012


file name: Monotype Century Gothic 1991 Poster by Cassandra Mayo 2016


file name: Chauncey Griffith Bell Centennial Address 1937 Bitstream Version 1978


file name: Chauncey Griffith Bell Centennial Bold Listing 1937 Bitstream Version 1978


file name: Matthew Carter Bell Centennial Sub Caption 1978


file name: Monotype Gill Sans W G L 1990 1998


file name: Morris Fuller Benton Franklin Gothic 1902 Poster by Juana Caudal 2014


file name: Morris Fuller Benton Franklin Gothic 1902 poster by Daniela Carusone 2016


file name: Robert Slimbach Carol Twombly Fred Brady Christopher Slye Myriad 1992


file name: Robert Slimbach Carol Twombly Fred Brady Christopher Slye Myriad Pro Cond Black 1992


file name: Robert Slimbach Carol Twombly Fred Brady Christopher Slye Myriad Pro Semibold 1992


file name: Robert Slimbach Carol Twombly Fred Brady Christopher Slye Myriad Pro Semiext Black 1992







Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html