A good font isn’t just a way of dressing up written content – it is part of that content. Fonts convey all sorts of subtle (and not so subtle) messages to readers. They can come to define a brand or represent an ethos. One of the first things you learn as a designer of any sort is to keep your typology consistent and on brand.
Some fonts have risen above the pack to become aesthetic icons. Here are four typefaces that have had a huge influence on design.
The Garamond font is almost as old as the printing press itself. Allegedly, documents printed in this old-style serif type date back to the 16th Century. The font is named after famed Parisian punch cutter Claude Garamond. Garamond is still remarkably popular today. It is an elegant and understated way of producing readable text. Most of the modern variations on the Garamond font are actually derived from the work of a later artisan: Jean Jannon. Jannon’s work was often misidentified as being a Claude Garamond product by typeface historians. An urban legend spread regarding the modern use of Garamond. Purportedly, the slim letters of Garamond type saved people money on printer ink due to its slim lettering. Unsurprisingly, this was found to be untrue.
Helvetica is a design classic. A neutral font – naturally developed in Switzerland – this sans serif typeface was born in 1957. It is highly versatile and has been utilized all over the world. Any New Yorkers reading this article will recognize it as the font used on all NYC subway signage.
Helvetica is representative of a whole swathe of simple, stylish fonts that have been utilized extensively on the web. Simple fonts put the message of any content front and center without compromising on beauty. This makes them perfect for use online, where website visitors can’t be expected to work hard to read or digest a statement before moving on. Many web designers exclusively use simple fonts. Alt Agency is a company specializing in web design in Coventry, England. They largely use simple fonts like Helvetica and Ebrima to help make their web designs both beautiful and functional.
Times New Roman
Times New Roman is a font associated with tradition and authoritative analysis. It graces the pages of broadsheet newspapers around the world. It isn’t as old a typeface as you might think. It was commissioned by the Times newspaper in 1931. It was designed to be both readable and authoritative.
Paul Renner’s 1927 Futura typeface manages to capture the optimistic futurism of the 1920s while still being simple and readable. It is a geometric sans serif font that has been widely used in film advertising and even films themselves. Legendary director Stanley Kubrick once declared that Futura was his favorite typeface, and has used it extensively in his masterpieces. It is easy to see why. Futura is bold and impactful while being neutral enough to be versatile.