20 typefaces to start a designers career

andywall's picture

I am in the process of purchasing a number of type licences for a London University. The idea is to limit the number of typefaces available for design students enabling them to be familiar with around 20 families.
Rather than pick them myself I would like to have a broad input into the final pickings.
Please could you post typefaces that you personally feel are indispensable to the modern designer.Ideally you could list your top 20. i will be posting a chart of deigners top 20 typerfaces on www.fatears.co.uk in the near future. Andy wall

clashmore's picture

This sounds fun. Here are my twenty desert island typefaces:

1. Helvetica Neue
2. Univers
3. Garamond
4. Bodoni
5. Clarendon
6. Rockwell
7. Gotham
8. Avenir Next
9. DIN
10. Perpetua
11. Bembo
12. Trade Gothic
13. Interstate
14. OCR-A
15. Caslon
16. Sabon
17. Mrs. Eaves
18. Meta
19. Meta Serif
20. Comic Sans

Yeah, I said it. Comic Sans. It serves as a way to weed out the bad ones: any student that uses it gets dropped from the program.

1985's picture

Following this thread


I'm just glad someone actually thinks about the type libraries available to students, so thanks Andy.


@James (kindly)
Limiting students is good, for some of their time at university.
However, excluding economics, what would be the point in limiting students to 20 (or 10 as James mentioned) for their entire duration at college?


Why not buy 10 'classic' typefaces and 10 'contemporary' typefaces.
Surely learning involves looking forwards as well as backwards.

Anyway like I said, thank you for even considering the dusty digital type library. There is probably no ideal combination
Any chance you are at University of the Arts London Andy?


marz's picture

I had started to post before and looked at the date of this original request...2003! Just for the sake of anyone who may be gleaning useful information from this thread, I'll post the information that I have.

My type class at an accredited art & design university had an official "list of typefaces"; thus insinuating they were faces that learned designers should be familiar with.

On this list were:

(Adobe) Garamond
Times New Roman
Mrs Eaves
Bauer Bodoni
Frankiln Gothic
News Gothic
Helvetica Neue
Copperplate Gothic


smongey's picture

I think that as you learn about the history of type design certain faces are landmarks in the evolution of type. If the history is taught correctly I think most student designers pick it up along the way. One typeface to mark each major development in the appearance of type will leave you with plently. An appreciation for these typefaces needs to be established. I know students that wouldn't have a breeze about typefaces solely because lectures on type where not common enough on their course.

For more contemporary type I'm sure the unicef book could be handy.

If it all works out then you can test your students with this.

Majouji's picture

Comic Sans
Adobe Garamond
FF Penguin
[some shitty Gotham remix]
[another shitty Gotham remix]


Theunis de Jong's picture

An interesting thread from the past. (Even the question of "why dig this up from the attic -- again?" is.)

I wonder if any of the original students that got limited to these 20 typefaces (*) would care to comment?

(*) Uh, if the OP ever got to choose anything. A few of those lists still sound great, almost a decade later.

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