Fonts for television

mkk's picture


I'm looking for some new suggestions for a clear, legible and flexible typeface for a television channel, mainly to be used in TV and online medium.

The font should reflect/support the channel's identity, which is personal, friendly and fresh, and somewhat hip/cool/ipod too. :-)

I have found some great fonts (see list), but I'm sure there are many more which I've never heard of!

FF Max (a bit wide)


Apex Sans




FF Signa

Fonts above are excellent, but I'd be interested to hear if there are some other fonts that work great in small and very small sizes on a tv screen.

Best regards,

.00's picture


William Berkson's picture

I think there has been discussion on these boards about how type renders on television; do a search and you probably will find stuff helpful.

I would also compare Locator. With its wide and stylish upper case it might work well for small sizes. The lower case of Clearview would probably work better though, at small sizes.

I don't know if Amplitude's traps would help render on TV, but you might check this out.

I am partial to Christian Schwartz's work - Simian text and Amplitude because it mangages to look stylish without being weird. Locator is there too. (The display of both Simian and Locator are too odd in my opinion for regular use.)

CNN's US nightly news (10 eastern) uses Meta successfully, and the News Hour on PBS has used Optima for years and it looks very classy. I guess is a lot in how the type will be used, and the mood you want to convey.

hrant's picture

What size, or range of sizes, will you be needing?

If it's small enough, consider this:

But you might actually be better off using a pair of -visually compatible- faces, one for small text and one for large.

> I don't know if Amplitude's traps would help render on TV

They should, at small sizes.
But my guess is that within a certain size range they will mostly contribute noise.


William Berkson's picture

I would think that Clearview would be more legible at small sizes than Tiresias. Compare for example their g's the descender is much closer to the bowl on Tiresias and would close up more quickly as you go to small sizes, no?

I don't know how hinting etc applies to TV, and this might be a critical factor in choosing.

By the way, does it have to be a sans? For example PMN Caecilia, with sturdy serifs should work.

Oh I just remembered - check out the new Monitor at - really nice and from the name probably designed for the screen.

porky's picture

A friendly soft sans for TV use?

Try that little (LTR) Critter.

I do graphics for telly for a living, so here's what I've learnt:

1: Avoid fonts with thin horizontal lines - they will flicker like crazy on a television screen due to interlacing.

2: Pick fonts with a large x-height - that will allow you to experiment with smaller sizes but remain readable.

3: (Assuming a nominal resolution of 72pt) Dont use a font smaller than 18pt ever ever, and try and keep to above 21pt as much as possible.

4: Dont use finely seriffed fonts - the serifs will break down on screen unless they're set massive. Slab or wedge serifs are cool though - experiment.

5: For static screens, gaussian blur the end screen by "0.3" in Photoshop: this will help with flickering.

6: Be careful of red type, especially if its highly saturated. View your designs on a television or a broadcast monitor to be sure.

7: This is where people may disagree with me: Be wary of chunky fonts at smaller sizes, they can appear to fill in a little, much like print on newspaper.

William Berkson's picture

Critter looks like it fits your goal beautifully.

Following David's valuable information, if you are willing to go for a serif, and want to emphasize the 'friendly' part of your goal, Sauna would be great - it has no fine horizontal lines.

gerald_giampa's picture

BBC Licensed Globe Gothic from Lanston for years. I have no idea if it worked for them or not. Don't live in England. Don't watch TV even if I did.

jfp's picture

Etienne Robial, a major player in TV graphics in France
always used old woodtype samples to set logos and when can't find right letters, use computers fonts but move them a bit, change size a bit each by each to create overal distortion. That way the overall image is "better".

Same idea is behind is CANAL + logo in italic to avoid strange alignements:
They use a special futura in Italic always for same reasons, only figures and maths signs are roman.

mkk's picture

Thank you very much for your suggestions!

I really appreciate the professional views and ideas of the designers on this forum.


porky's picture

Hi everyone,

Following on from this, I have created an extended version of the general advice above, along with the technicalities behind why, on

I shall put it in the archive when I am back at home, but for the moment it is located on the homepage:

Hope it helps anyone working on telly and DVDs... :-)

docunagi's picture

I designed few years ago a font for subtitles for the movies. It never went on business so I reconsidered the drawings to make them fit with the constraints of signage. I used it for some titles for tv and works fine. It is called Tabula :)

Jan Sandvik's picture

I think FF Unit would work great on screen. The glyphs have enough of "character" and it's rugged enough. There's also enough of different weights for different sizes and applications.

Stephen Coles's picture

Amplitude is very readable and has a lot of character.
Gotham is amazingly clear at small sizes.

garson's picture

Hi, this thread has been really helpful.

Does anyone know of any serif fonts that work well for television? I am looking for something 17th century styled if possible. I would estimate the range of sizes I would need are from 18 to 40pt.

Chris Barrows's picture

I'm trying to find a font called Arthouse DIN and I can't seem to find it. I need help.

riccard0's picture

@Chris Barrows: next time, please start a new thread.
That said, ArtHouse DIN is a proprietary typeface designed for NBC, so you can't find it (and if you could, you can't use it). You should settle for one of the several DINs readily available:

jussi's picture

Just found this very helpful thread, and wanted to say that we used Caecilia (as William mentioned above) when we redesigned the news on Swedish Public Television.


Stephen Coles's picture

Nice work, Jussi. Added to the FontShop Gallery. Love the Supershapes site too. The rollover interaction on /work is lovely.

vvura's picture

does something change since 2004?
i mean in sans for tv.
it's very hard to find such information

Si_Daniels's picture

>does something change since 2004?

Yes, HD. There was an interesting panel discussion that touched on this at TypeCon.

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