Top 10 typefaces

elastik's picture

could you please submit a list of your top-10-typefaces, no matter if sans, serif, dingbat,...

looking for an honest top-10-fonts-list of the fonts you most use.

to keep it simple please try to stick to the following form:

1. name (additional info)
2. name (additional info)

thanks a lot in advance,

dezcom's picture

Adobe Garamond
FF Din
Bauer Bodoni
Berthold Akzidenz
Bickham Script
FF Signa
Adobe Caslon

trae's picture

Adobe Garamond (admittedly a little tired of it but find it indispensable)
Zapf Dingbats
Adobe Jenson
Franklin Gothic
Gothic 13
CA Aires

marcox's picture

Most used, eh?

These certainly aren't my most loved, as the comments make clear.

FF Scala (still love it after all these years)
FF Meta
PMN Caecilia
Akzidenz Grotesk BE (having fun with the extended widths lately)
Beaufort (by our friend Nick Shinn)
Times Ten (only because a client's branding standards require it)
Frutiger (ditto)
FF Dingbats (incredibly useful)
LT Syntax (Linotype's new version)

(These will move up or down the chart depending on the month/season -- I work on 5 different publications at various times throughout the year.)

Jon Whipple's picture

10 I use the most? Run in terror:
Frutiger (corporate face)
Bodoni (corporate face)
Clarendon (love this, but it's starting to get used a lot)
Helvetica Neue
Verdana (web development)
Trebuchet (web development)
Tahoma (web development)
Georgia (web development)
Arial (because everything I get from others is in this, so I end up using it) and the same for
Times New Roman

Wow, when I look at that list I feel a big sucking feeling in my soul. No wonder I hang around here...

John Hudson's picture

The best typeface is always the best typeface for a specific job, and it is pointless to try to identify top typefaces without the context of a particular text or project. So here is a list of typefaces that I currently admire very much as works of design, for various reasons, with the caveat that I might never have a good reason to use some of them (to date I have used six of the ten). In alphabetic order, currently available digital Latin typefaces only:

Caecilia (Peter Matthias Noordzij)
Coranto (Gerard Unger)
Dante (Giovanni Mardersteig)*
Erhardt (? Monotype)
Fenway (Matthew Carter)
Haarlemmer (Jan van Krimpen)
Kinesis (Mark Jamra)
Plantagenet Novus (Ross Mills)
Shaker (Jeremy Tankard)

whoisdan's picture

Can you provide a link to view some Fenway specs or info? I can't find the thing anywhere. Much thanks.

hdschellnack's picture

in no particular order and very much just a mood of how I feel right now...

Scala (both)
The Sans
Neue Helvetica
Garamond Pro
FF Din
Quadraat (both)

nike's picture

this is my top 10. unfortunately I have only two of them.

trade gothic
corporate ase
fedra sans/serif

grid's picture

Could you elaborate a bit on why you choose Caecilia and Haarlemmer? I don

hdschellnack's picture

Remesh... very nice mix!!! (and tricky... ase, of course makes it a whopping twelve fonts :-))

nike's picture

thanks hd, if you add fedra and priori it will make 15 : )

John Hudson's picture

Can you provide a link to view some Fenway specs or info? I can't find the thing anywhere. Much thanks. Fenway was designed for Sports Illustrated who use it as their text face. It was also used, in a slightly modified form, for the ATypI/Graphis publication Language Culture Type, which I typset, and in all the materials for the ATypI conference here in Vancouver. Fenway roman and italic Having worked with Fenway, I have a huge amount of admiration for how readable it is, and for how it manages to be entirely modern while directly referencing Fleischmann's baroque types. Could you elaborate a bit on why you choose Caecilia and Haarlemmer?

porky's picture

In no order, and knowing some will snort...

Sabon Next
Gill Sans
Helvetica Neue
Verdana (for screen)

PS: This is a would-do list, can't afford them all!

whoisdan's picture

Okay, I'm starting to think I'm crazy. I can't stand Adobe Garamond's italics, especially the h and n. And the r looks like a cornstalk. Am I just dumb? I would go with Sabon over AG any day of the week.

About Fenway: It is the first font that made me notice typography. I remember a few SI redesigns, and I remember really liking the newest body type. That was before I knew what typography even was. How can one purchase the font or see a pdf of it?

hrant's picture

In fact Garamond's italics represent much of what remains wrong in type design.

Fenway: yes, it looks good in SI (and pretty much anywhere, since it's so robust), but businessWeek is where it really shines.


abarwick's picture

Speaking of BusinessWeek and Fenway, they messed up the right sidebearing on the fi and fl ligatures somehow and caused letters to crash into each other.

hrant's picture

Still?! I got the redesign launch issue back in October, and it had that problem. I'm sure somebody must have noticed long ago, and yet no correction! :-/ Otherwise though the BW setting does Fenway more justice than SI's.


hrant's picture

BTW, I just remembered that I scanned up a Fenway comparison back when BusinessWeek launched:

SI: Sports Illustrated (text)
BWt: BusinessWeek text cut
BWd: BusinessWeek display cut

The BWd has been scaled down, but the first two are same-dpi. You can see that Fenway is set smaller and looser in SI, which really makes it less readable than in BW.


kentlew's picture

Hrant --

I remain mystified about what you mean when you say that BusinessWeek does Fenway greater "justice" than Sports Illustrated.

If you'd said you prefer BW to SI, then so be it -- to each his own.

But "justice"?

Sports Illustrated is, of course, the client for whom Carter designed Fenway. They use it, basically, at the size for which it was originally intended and at the default spacing that Carter gave it. Mostly, I believe, they use it at 9 point (on 11). Carter has cited Fleischmann's smaller types (approx. 8 pt) as an inspiration.

I have no quibble with BusinessWeek's setting (except that inexplicable thing with the f-ligature spacing). But why do you say that setting Fenway with tighter tracking and less leading is doing it more "justice"?

It's been a while since I compared the two settings directly, but mostly what I recall is that BW is set tighter with less leading, and SI has H&Js that vary letterspacing a little more (too much for my taste).

BTW, I recall noticing recently that another magazine has adopted Fenway for text, but I can't remember exactly which -- some men's health magazine or something, I think.

-- K.

whoisdan's picture

BTW, I recall noticing recently that another magazine has adopted Fenway for text, but I can't remember exactly which

I think I saw Fenway in Esquire, but I could be wrong.

hrant's picture

Kent, I'm simply assuming that Carter spaced Fenway very well, and coupled with the fact that the setting in SI is too loose (besides the too-great leading you point out), this leads to the conclusion that they messed with it (or at least that BW messed with it less).

BTW, is it possible you're thinking of "Men's Fitness"? But that another Fleischmann, not Fenway.


elastik's picture

i love your engagement, but you are way off topic guys.
sorry, dont want to be patronizing but i was really hoping that this threat would be just used for people's top ten. I am currently working on a project where this survey might become very interesting. please try to just post your fav 10 here. thanks alot,

Thomas Phinney's picture

In no particular order, my current favorites:

Iowan Oldstyle
Kabel (non-ITC)
Goudy Sans

Special mentions and guilty pleasures:

Blue Island
Columbus (ATF display face, not the Monotype face of the same name)
Gill Sans
Le Monde Livre
Optima Nova
Sabon Next
lots of funky stuff circa 1885-1925

The list is slanted to stuff available through Adobe because those are the typefaces I work with all the time. There's plenty of other good or great stuff out there, but most of it I have not used enough to really get a strong opinion of its wonderfulness.

List subject to change without notice. Except where required by local law, all warranties are expressly disclaimed. Fnord.


kentlew's picture

>Kent, I'm simply assuming that Carter spaced Fenway very well, and coupled with the fact that the setting in SI is too loose (besides the too-great leading you point out), this leads to the conclusion that they messed with it (or at least that BW messed with it less).

Hrant, SI uses Fenway exactly the way Carter spaced it, as near as I can tell from what I have. (John might be able to corroborate this, if he wants to take the time to compare SI and his copy of Fenway.) So you are in fact criticizing Carter's spacing. Fine, no problem. I'm sure Matthew would not claim to be perfect, and everyone's entitled to their opinion; but I just thought you should realize that.

I think Men's Fitness is probably using Farnham, but that could have been what I saw and didn't look close enough.

Daniel, Esquire uses Hoefler's Mercury -- which is based on some of the same models as Carter's Fenway, with a similar stylistic approach, so it's easy to confuse them.

Constantin, sorry to further the tangent to "your" thread.

But your initial query is somewhat contradictory. You ask for "an honest top-10-fonts-list of the fonts you most use"; but later refer to a "fav 10". These are not necessarily going to be the same list. As John implies in his post, a list of favorites will not necessarily include fonts that are most used, depending upon the needs of one's projects, and vice versa.

Which would you rather have -- a list of my current favorites, or a list of the fonts I find most useful and use most?

-- K.

hrant's picture

{Constantin, I'll try to stop - but you gotta get Kent to cooperate too! :-}

It's strange: I dug out my copy of the ATypI Delegates Report of 1999-2000 (wonderfully set by Maxim Zhukov) and the Fenway in there (at a larger point size) seems to work great; so I assumed that it's spaced tighter than an SI. But then I scanned it up, and you're right - it's the same! This is especially strange because the point size in SI is smaller, which means more looseness would be better, but then how could the BW setting look better?! Well, it did to me at least.

But maybe my memory of the SI/BW difference has been flipped? That would surprise me though. Or is it possible that the too-great leading in SI (which we agree on) is making the boumas seem too loose? Like I said, strange.

aquatoad's picture

Here are the most recent used:

Caecilia (showing up everywhere here)
Lucida Grande (web)
Verdana (web)
Georgia (web)
Grit History
Olduvai (+ Tenement)

Oops, Futura also.
Crap, Centaur Italic and Blado for inspiration recently.

I am about to spec Sauna for a job.
Favorites are another list.


kris's picture

Most recently used? Here you are:

Minion Pro
Scala Sans
Eliza (mine)
Kelburn (mine)
Verdana (web)
Luca Titling (mine)
Klim Sans (mine)
Kowhai (mine, in progress)


rs_donsata's picture

10 most recently used -

News Gothic (a terribly kerned version)
Quadraat Sans
Neuland + Informal 011
Zapf Humanist (optima)
Zurich (univers)
P22 Morris Troy
Myriad Roman

dezcom's picture

I have always had a fondness for Big Caslon as well

kentlew's picture

Okay, here's a list of my ten most used. This isn't the same as a favorites list (although there would be a certain amount of overlap). These are my currently most useful tools -- my table saw, drill, and hammer -- the ones I turn to most often to get the job done.

Franklin Gothic
Bureau Grotesque
PMN Caecilia
Minion MM
Myriad MM
European Pi 3

Most recently used fonts would include

Iowan Old Style
FTN Farao (Peter, I owe you a copy of that book)

-- K.

giam's picture

A prosaic list --

Times New Roman
Times Roman Extrabold
Book Antiqua
or Palatino
Adobe Garamond
Bauer Bodoni
Bauer Bodoni Titling
News Gothic

Bauer Bodoni

hrant's picture

But Vendetta's angularity is not WAD-style.
It's a "discretization" of the strokes (both sides), not an optical effect in the counters.


Nick Shinn's picture

I always try and use my own fonts on design projects, so I won't bore you all with a list of them (although it may be interesting that I have never found my most popular type designs, Fontesque and Handsome, appropriate for the kind of art direction I do).

But for live text on the web, I am 100% Carterite:

whoisdan's picture

Most Recent:

Lucida Grande (toss-up with Verdana for body text for me)
Verdana (nice web titling)
New Century Schoolbook
Chicago (What?)

I don't think I can yet afford any of my "favorites".

karen's picture

How can we get a copy of Mercury? Is it custom? I don't see it on Hoefler's site.

plantin110's picture

recently used
1 Times Classic Text fonts 70, 72, and 74
2 Franklin Classic fonts 50, 54, and 56
3 Hibernia (my own work in progress)

I work for the Times newspaper hence the first two on the list. Times Classic is a new face to improve the readibility of the Times designed by Dave Farey (Stanley Morrison's love child) and Richard Dawson. In an ideal world I would like to use Dante, Lexicon, Trinite, and Van Dyjck

hrant's picture

FYI, there's a foundry called Hibernia.

Times New Roman was designed by Burgess.


gerald_giampa's picture


Could this

as8's picture


plantin110's picture

I at no time said that Stanley Morison designed Times New Roman.

markus_maurizio's picture

DTL Caspari (the best sans serif, plain and powerfull)
Monotype 'Garamond' (italic with a strong character)
Galliard (love at first sight)

hrant's picture

Gary, so you were saying that Dave Farey is "Stanley Morison's love child"? That would certainly be less improbable. :-)


plantin110's picture

Hrant, When I described Dave Farey as Stanley Morison's love child I attempting to be humourous. I know that Victor Lardent did the artwork for Times New Roman having been briefed by Morison, and that the controversy over whether Starling Burgess actually designed it continues.
Burgess of course was Goudy's second cousin.

hrant's picture

> Burgess of course was Goudy's second cousin.

Really?! Wow.


plantin110's picture

Is there a good link to the Starling Burgess /Times information

hrant's picture

I haven't seen anything online. Your best bet remains the purchase of issue #31/32 here:


Gregory Cadars's picture

In no order:

| Print

Filt (Fountain)
Transport (URW)
Agenda (Fontbureau)
Poynter Agathe (Fontbureau)
Fritz (Fontbureau)
Berlin Sans (Fontbureau)
Typ1451 (Lineto)
Syntax (Linotype)
Parisine (PTF)
Plump MT

| Screen

LoRes (Emigre)
OhLaLa (M.Fredrikson)
Fanda Black (Eutypoce)
Tenacity (Minifonts)
SubVario (Eboy)
Fedra Bitmap
Monaco 10

Miss Tiffany's picture

10 Most Recently Used

Hoefler's Gotham
Monotype's Truesdell
Storm's Tyfa
URW Futura Display
Bitstream's Futura
Big Caslon
Font Bureau's Amplitude
Font Bureau's Stainless
Font Bureau's Miller
House Industries' Movements Custom

Stephen Coles's picture

Favorite 10 For Now (This May Change at Any Moment ... Like Tomorrow)

TheSerif - deGroot (I like Caecilia very much, but the versatility of the
Thesis family makes it most usable for me)
TheSans - deGroot
Gotham - Frere-Jones/HTF
Knockout - Hoefler
Farao - Storm
Imbiss (Mustardo/Ketchupa/Mayo) - Bruhn/Fountain (some fonts are just a joy to use)
Dante - Carpenter/Monotype (takes a lot of work to use, but always looks great in the end)
Neutraface - Schwartz/House
Radio - Rakeng/Thirstype
Georgia - Carter/MS

And this one didn't make my top 10, but it deserves a mention
because it worked so perfectly for the project I just finished - a
mix CD cover:

Refrigerator - Simonson

Tiff - You've reminded me how much Truesdell makes me think
of Vendetta (without the angularity of course).

Miss Tiffany's picture

(not hijacking thread, just an innocent aside)

Stephen don't you think that Vendetta could be used with Truesdell? Following Dwig's M-Theory the angularity of Vendetta could be used as text and Truesdell could be used as Display. Truesdell is a pain to work with, but it is beautiful. I wish they'd update it, it seems the way it was digitized ... well, I find myself to typographic acrobatics to use lining and ranging figures at different times.

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