Futura Condensed Alternative?

chadbrewer's picture


This is my first post here at typophile — what a cool website!
Anyways, here's my problem: I'm a graphic design student, and I find myself using Futura Condensed very often. Particularily when I'm going for the clean-modern-elegant look. Do you have any suggestions for other fonts that would fit the bill?


Chad Brewer

Pg¹'s picture


Futura is a very accommodating typeface for that clean-modern look however I find myself using Officina or Frutiger often too. The trick I find is to get 2 typefaces that are a nice complement of each other and go from there. I know it is bad to limit yourself to 2 and by no means is that what I am saying, but for somebody in school it is a very good thing to see what the limitations of said face are.

My 2 during school were Futura Family (regular & condensed) and Minion Pro, a very nice face however used quite often can create the same drone feeling that Times has created for itself.

Good Luck,

Matthew Potter,
Business Analyst, Electronic Art Specialist
Groupe Pages Jaune / Yellow Pages Group
Business Manager, Partner
Pg1 - Design & Consulting
Member of Executives
Type Club of Toronto

chadbrewer's picture

Frutiger is not a bad looking font - thanks for the tip.

Sans serif fonts are always harder for me to desern a 'mood' to than serif fonts. Most sans look very dull to me. But Frutiger looks nice, and it certainly has a lot of typestyles!


dan_reynolds's picture

Hve you looked at Avenir Next? Avenir is a typeface based on Futura that Adrian Frutiger designed in 1988. He had never been bappy with the cold, modern appearance of Futura, so he humanized it. In 2003, he and Akira Kobayashi redrew Avenir, creating Avenir Next, which has better distribution of weight across the family, small caps, old style figures, and condensed styles. No true italics, though. I don't think that Frutiger was ever a fan of those.

Here is the URL to Avenir Next, and here is one to the old Avenir.

Bald Condensed's picture

Personally I think there is no excuse whatsoever for using Futura Condensed, as I truly think that face is an abomination, sorry for ranting. :-)

If you want a clean-truly modern-elegant look there are a number of contemporary alternatives that blow Futura, Frutiger and the lot right out of the water.

I don't have time right now to give you a complete run-down, but for starters have a look at the very-forward-thinking-but-subtly-so sans serifs of every graphic designer's best kept secret Psy/Ops, MacRhino's quite narrow Stalemate, Eric Olson's technical-yet-warm Klavika, Chester's Galaxie Polaris, Infinity and Apex Sans, and Luc(as) de Groot's complete output.

Bald Condensed's picture

If you want a more conventional-looking alternative, particularly like Futura's small x-height and need a condensed companion as well, Christian Schwartz's Neutraface and Neutraface Condensed are the perfect choice. It's got true italics, and can be used both in Futura- (Neutraface Alternate) and Avenir (Neutraface "regular")-mode -- two type families in one! :-)

dan_reynolds's picture

There is also Gotham, which is similar, too, albeit much more American vernacular.


Jan Sandvik's picture

I saw just Emigre's new Vista Sans and fell in love with it.

chadbrewer's picture

Wow, thanks all for the suggestions! I'm sure you all don't want to hear my somewhat naive take on all these suggestions - so I'll just say that FF Super Grotesk and Neutraface are my two favs. Though it may be awhile before I can afford them :)


Mark Foster's picture

Although I do still like Futura - the regular width, not the condensed - my current two favorite sans for a sense of modern elegance are Auto 1 from Underware and Magma from StoneType.

More daring yet still elegant are Sophisto from MAC Rhino & PSY/OPS, Faceplate Sans from PSY/OPS and Reykjavik One also from PSY/OPS.

All these faces are fairly narrow, especially Magma and Sophisto.

chester's stuff, recommended by Yves below, is simply incredible. In particular, I reach for GalaxiePolaris whenever I need a superbly stylish grotesk.

Stalemate would have been on my list as well if Yves hadn't mentioned it already.

Vista Sans is wonderful too, but beware. Even though designer Xavier Dupré says "the text weights are loosely spaced" I was shocked to discover just how loosely spaced they are - so much so that Vista Sans is not, in my view, a realistic choice for extended text at a bookish 9.5 points, for example. Magically, the text weights start to work and really are quite lovely starting at around 11 points - but they still seem better suited to shorter than to longer texts at this size as well.

One final caveat on Vista: it is a very, very dark typeface. I usually have issues with the fact that many digital fonts are too light for my limited office toolset, but Vista is a little dark even for me. The book weight might be considered a regular in other fonts, the regular a medium, and the medium a bold.

Regardless, I find Dupré's work amazing and am now saving my pennies for his FF Absara Sans, reportedly due out from FontShop later this year.

Stefan H's picture

Yves & Mark,

Thanks for mentioning my typeface Stalemate. Makes me proud to read groovy suggestions like yours.


hrant's picture

Yves, Futura-Condensed is fine... if you mechanically stretch it wider, and fix some resultant issues like the "s". :-)


Stephen Coles's picture

"Regardless, I find Dupré’s work amazing and am now saving my pennies for his FF Absara Sans, reportedly due out from FontShop later this year."

FF Absara Sans is out.

paul d hunt's picture

hooray for the font of the week! (altho i expect this may be more one of the fonts of the year):

Proxima Nova has a condensed and an extra condensed width.

Chris Keegan's picture

The Myriad family from Adobe may also be a good alternative for you.

Rene Verkaart's picture

He you guys, what's wrong with the good old Helvetica? :D


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