Greek alphabet

jonathanlawley's picture

Can anyone recommend a sans serif Greek alphabet? I require something that will sit well amongst other type.

Thank you

hrant's picture

Well, Greek fonts with many serifs are necessarily inauthentic, so I think you just described a very broad field to choose from! :-) So let me just point you to my most favorite Greek font: Apollonia by Takis Katsoulidis. It even has a nicely Hellenized Latin component.


jcoltz's picture


Can you be more specific about "other type?" What is it you're working on? Do you require polytonic Greek, or is monotonic sufficient for your purposes?

You might begin simply by looking at some samples. If you have a copy of Bringhurst close by, that's a good place to start.



John Hudson's picture

I presume by sans serif Greek you mean a low contrast Greek with sans serif uppercase letters. Serifs are not normal or authentic on Greek lowercase letters.

Jon's questions are important. With what other types do you want this Greek to combine?

Si_Daniels's picture

Another question - is the text mostly Greek with a few non-Greek words, or the other way around?

What's the nature of the text? This may be important if you need to choose between a font containing westernized Greek forms vs more traditional forms.


hrant's picture

This "structural" aspect is indeed the most important factor here. Since the vast majority of Greek fonts that have Latin counterparts are merely derivations from the Latin, they can only really be used in subordinate roles, for example for Greek snippets in a body of English. The other way around (like in Apollonia) is very rare, and of course in that case you couldn't use the Latin for a lot of text. Rarer still (I personally don't know of any) would be a Latin and a Greek font that are harmonious at the formal visual level, but still authentic and functional on their own - as a result great for setting two parallel blocks of text in each script. On the other hand, if you find a "stand-alone" authentic Greek font it's possible you can still find a compatible Latin font (although you'll have to be very lucky to closely match the apparent sizes, color, etc.)

Ideally it would be great to have two separate fonts, each with two parts: one that's Greek with a subordinate Latin, and one that's Latin with a subordinate Greek. In this way you can accomodate virtually any typographic structure with great harmony, but without sacrificing authenticity or functionality. There is only one font family like this that I know of... :-)


Si_Daniels's picture

>In this way you can accomodate virtually any typographic structure with great harmony, but without sacrificing authenticity or functionality.

Unless you're mixing Greek with Russian, Japanese etc., ;-)

The Latin + X vs X + Latin approach is a step in the right direction, but is still Latin-centric. In an ideal world you'd have a matrix of commonly combined languages and have subtly different fonts for each combination.

Cheers, Si

jonathanlawley's picture

Its just the odd Greek word amongst Frutiger Roman. I like Antigone Greek is it available?

Where can I look at Apollonia?

Whats this sample?


addison's picture

Jonathan, the sample you've shown is Adobe's Warnock Pro by Robert Slimbach. It's a pretty extensive OpenType family.

hrant's picture

Simon, you're right, the structure I describe is just for mixing Latin & X in different ways. The "superset" solution is actually like a network - so like if you added a third script, you'd need a new font to render that script authentically, that font would need two subordinate styles, and the two other fonts would need to each get a new subordinate style. Hey, nobody said satisfying different cultures was easy... :-/

Jonathan, that sample is Adobe Warnock. It's nice, but still suffers from the classic geometric congruence (matching x-height, etc.) issue that goes against the actual needs of non-Latin typesetting. The good thing about MM fonts though is that you could for example make the Cyrillic slightly larger in point size but compensate on the color with the weight axis, and maybe tweak the width axis too. But these are things that an intelligent multi-script system should just do by default. Adobe's non-Latin fonts (as well most anybody else's) also suffer from "cognate disease": having that "a" look exactly the same in Latin and Cyrillic might turn on some Swiss folk, but it's bad for reading, and bad for cultural diversity.

Apollonia: it's available through Cannibal, except their site seems to be down.

But anyway it sounds like you just need a subordinate Greek, and you should have no trouble at finding one for Frutiger! :-/


John Hudson's picture

If you need something to combine with Frutiger, I can thoroughly recommend Adobe's Myriad Pro. The Greek designed for this is one of the best 'sans serifs' currently available, and Myriad belongs to the same sub-genre of humanistic sans as Frutiger. The design is very authentic, and doesn't sacrifice the inherent liveliness and variety of the Greek script to the more rigid and modular Latin.

Another, free option would be the Frutiger Linotype fonts that ships with Microsoft's eBook Reader. This version of Frutiger includes a new Greek; however, the Greek was not designed by Adrian Frutiger himself, and I think it suffers from the rigidity of e.g. the original Helvetica Greek. It is a sadly missed opportunity, and looks about thirty years out of date. Myriad Pro Greek is vastly superior.

This is what the two faces look like:
Greek comparison

Thomas Phinney's picture

I've just been working a lot on Greek lowercase in the last couple of weeks, so this is particularly convenient timing.

Some of the Frutiger LT Greek lowercase glyphs seem almost bizarrely geometric for such a humanist face. The gamma, delta, lambda and pi are among those that really leap out as being inappropriate.

It seems odd to me, because with the Greek lowercase having such strong calligraphic roots, I'd expect the lowercase to be even more humanist than the Latin lowercase, instead of less so.

The descender shapes on zeta and xi both seem what Robert Slimbach would call "wormy." I should know, since he has pointed it out in my own work often enough (mostly on the eszett which I can never get right it seems). The final sigma seems to do okay though, on the same shape.

Do you know who did the Greek for Frutiger LT, btw?



geraintf's picture

i'd consider gill sans greek, a product of the monotype drawing office

hrant's picture

And if you can get the MM of the Myriad Greek, you can nicely tweak the size/color/width to get a better balance than the default.


John Hudson's picture

The Myriad Greek was a new addition to the Pro OT fonts: the older Myriad MM didn't include the Greek.

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