Gill Sans - Moving Forward from

Christian Teniswood's picture

What are some typefaces you guys would recommend looking at if you wanted to move from using Gill Sans, forward in a more contemporary direction, say 10% forward (perhaps another more recently designed humanist sans) and maybe some directions that move more radically in a different direction but hint at the origins?

Not sure I put it very eloquently, so I hope I've got my point across.

Basically, suggestions for a small move forward from Gill Sans, and also suggestions for a large leap forward as well.

Eg, off the top of my head a small move might be myriad, scala, meta or frutiger, a large move perhaps legato, DIN, helvetica?

Anyway, any suggestions appreciated.



Geoff Riding's picture

Myriad, Meta, Frutiger, Din and Helvetica are ubiquitous and overused in my humble opinion.

Lisboa by Ricardo Santos
Vista Sans by Xavier Dupré

I'm not too sure if they are too big a step forward...

dan_reynolds's picture

10% forward would be Syntax or Today Sans.

TheMark's picture

Hey Christian

I would go Frutiger, Conduit, Scene Sans maybe...

I am SO tired of Gill Sans - everybody uses it and its Scares the be-jesus out of me because its so freakin ugly... I'm sorry is it just me?

Spring in CPH

Christian Teniswood's picture

No no, definitely not. Lisboa is definitely relevant, and Vista heads into the revolutionary department which is what I'm looking for.

I simply listed a few obvious ones to show i have to start with the ubiquitous choices and then move progressively into a broader range.

Thanks Geoff

franzheidl's picture

just to second that, syntax and today pretty much match your description of a "10%"-forward-move, also have a look at Karv

timd's picture

Maybe not as much as a 10% move.

Rani's picture

Akzidenz Grotesk seems to be the substitute of choice for Helvetica, although I haven't yet used the font I have heard anything set in Helvetica will look a million times better in Akzidenz Grotesk. Good 10%er.

Proxima Nova is more of a humanist font then the geometric Gill Sans, so I would lump it into the 'big leap' category.

Geoff Riding's picture

> Thanks Geoff

No worries Christian, I thought my suggestions might've been a leap too far ahead so I'm glad it's the kind you're looking for.

> Proxima Nova is more of a humanist font then the geometric Gill Sans, so I would lump it into the ‘big leap’ category.

Rani, isn't it the other way around? I wouldn't classify Proxima Nova as a humanist sans, I think it as a geometric-grotesque, it's like Futura-Neturaface-Adzidenz Grotesk mixed tastefully. :^)

Here's another suggestion, Freight Sans by Joshua Darden, I think it's got enough quirks.

Rani's picture

At first was going to say it is very geometric although I notice certain humanist elements in the lowercase. But maybe going so far as to call it humanist was a little bit of an exaggeration. I am somewhat blurry on the term names so it is actually a helpful learning experience to be corrected, weird I know. Thanks for that Geoff. :-)

Oh and Mark Simonson reads these forums, so I am somewhat embarrassed with calling his font humanist before.

pattyfab's picture

Agenda, Seria Sans are two other options.

I was also going to suggest Today Sans (but for the hideous ampersand) and Bliss but can see they're already mentioned.

William Berkson's picture

Now if your question is, in those projects where Gill would be good, what is a fresher face, then Bliss I agree is excellent.

But if you are using Gill for almost all your projects then moving forward I think involves using different faces for different projects, and not having a 'standard'. The advantage of today's proliferation of good faces means that you can get distinctive, suitable faces to use for different projects, suiting the distinctive needs of the project.

George Horton's picture

Agenda would fit the small leap well. The trouble is there just aren't many types as good as Gill Sans, but Legato and Seria Sans are exceptional if you want a bigger leap.

londontype's picture

Have you seen Storm's Sebastian? Not 10% forward and maybe not even in the same dimension, but worth a look.

pattyfab's picture

I will add that as part of the 10% improvement, some of the fonts mentioned above such as Today, Seria and Scala sans have real small caps and (in the case of seria and scala) expert collections w/ligatures and fractions. Gill has none of that which makes it limited for some uses. Agenda, despite the thoroughness of its weights and all the condensed options, doesn't have expert collections. Nor does Bliss.

dan_reynolds's picture

Gill has none of that which makes it limited for some uses.

Yes it does! Monotype has released a Gill Sans Pro (a few months ago, at least). Its at their website.

Miss Tiffany's picture

You can also get Gill Sans small caps from Font Shop, but the caps are still a little too heavy. :^/ And the old style figures are awful.

crossgrove's picture

Helvetica would be a large move backward from Gill Sans.

James Arboghast's picture

Gill Sans is said to be humanist design, so a more recent humanist sans may be the go, How 'bout Thesis? The "basic" version even has a binocular g.

j a m e s

timd's picture

Does Gill Sans Pro have an alternative 1 (apart from the osf)? I couldn't see one on the graphic and it is one of the most annoying numerals to use.

NiceTry's picture

Scala Sans would be near the top of my list as an essential humanist sans:

The same designer's more recent Nexus Sans has a little more of the stone-cut look of Gill Sans. It might be a better design:

Stormtype's John Sans is also a really good font. It has a lovely shape, and is still English at its root, so it is sort of related to Gill in a roundabout way. I would recommend this one to everyone:

There are a few Foundry fonts that come to mind, like Sterling:

Jackson's picture
There is an alternate 1
but the lowercase d is still inconsistent and the osf are wack

paul d hunt's picture

I'd hafta place my votes on John Sans, Sebastian & Proxima Nova

Miss Tiffany's picture

John Sans is great, but I think Dyna Grotesk is gorgeous! Both at

timd's picture

Thank you.

Nick Shinn's picture

Having extensively used both the Gill Sans family and the Scala Sans family, in a complex editorial environment, I would say that Scala Sans is the logical next step for a humanist sans, especially given its large typographic range, including condensed, small caps, figure alternatives, and hands!

I'm not sure whether you'd consider this a small or large step from Gill Sans. Obviously faces like Bliss, Agenda, and English Grotesque are closer.

pattyfab's picture

I am also in LOVE with Nobel from Font Bureau but it'll have to wait until I win the lottery.

moyogo's picture

I've grown fond of Parisine last time I was in Paris.
I don't know if that is too much forward but it has an a with a tail and a double storey g.

Hildebrant's picture

I''m definatley going to second the Scala Sans suggestion.

George Horton's picture

But Scala Sans is so much less geometrically efficient than Gill Sans: it isn't sufficiently reticent to use for lots of things.

Nick Shinn's picture

it isn’t sufficiently reticent to use for lots of things.

I've found it very accomodating.

William Berkson's picture

>very accomodating

In our local Whole Foods, the signs are large, burnished metal Scala Sans letters. And things being what they are, I would suspect that this is true in many, many of their shops. They look great.

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