ADVICE: Good Magazine Faces

jayyy's picture

I expect to be working on a magazine design very soon. I also expect the budget to be small and the timeframe to be tight. I am considering various typefaces for editorial, heads, sub-heads, features etc. I really like Neutraface by House Industries, the $500 pricetag is a little high but it is comprehensive and has the right mix of contemporary and classic to it.
I also really like Gotham by H&FJ and it's a little more affordable at $400 complete.

The magazine is a local entertainment and lifestyle publication. My idea is that by getting the correct type from the get-go will set the tone for the rest of the magazine.

I have no ideas for the body type as of yet.

Any help or pointers would be great.


francis bold's picture

What sort of genre will the magazine be?

francis bold's picture

Forget my last post :P.

I suggest Satero Serif for the body

crossgrove's picture

2 sans families in the same genre do work nicely for a wide range of sizes and settings: Verlag and Neutra #2. I just saw a magazine with Verlag everywhere, and really liked the feel of the caps in heads. Then too, the small sizes for captions and callouts were very appealing too.

I haven't played with or seen as much Neutraface (especially the new #2 with higher crossbars), but I suspect it feels a little more mechanical and geometric. The bowls in Verlag tend to be narrower and less circular. Overall it's a very warm impression for a geometric design, maybe more deco than geometric.

jayyy's picture

Verlag is beautiful. Think I still may prefer Neutra for now but it's on the list.


Would I be on the wrong path to use the same family for heads and body?

I need to do some more research and see what others are doing and what I like. It seems that if your gonna spend $500 on a family it would be nice if that could be for the editorial copy too. Maybe it's just a matter of taste.

blank's picture

My idea is that by getting the correct type from the get-go will set the tone for the rest of the magazine.

Shouldn’t the tone determine the type, and not the other way around?

Would I be on the wrong path to use the same family for heads and body?

Nope. As long as a typeface has the fonts you need to create the right contrasts, you’ll be fine. You can add new display types later–for pull quotes, etc—as budget allows to keep things fresh.

Since you’re already considering H&FJ look at Whitney. It’s very gorgeous and very capable; the specimens just don’t do it justice. I believe Flaunt has been using it as their text face for a while now. Also, take a look at Jos Buivenga’s free/inexpensive typefaces. I’m doing a magazine with only his stuff right now and it looks great! Museo is only $30 for five weights that scale well and can create incredible contrast.

jayyy's picture

"Shouldn’t the tone determine the type, and not the other way around?"

True James. I took that as a given though. The audience is luxury lifestyle, expensive condo and restaurant types who live in a city in South Florida. I want contemporary with some art-deco undertones.

Many thanks for all the advice guys - please do keep it coming. I am looking at all of these suggestions very carefully.

mondoB's picture

Use a strong serif for body copy and a well-matched sans for heads, subheads, sidebars, headlines, etc. Never, but never, consider sans for body copy: nobody wants to read that much of any sans.

The biggest and crispest serif face for 9pt is Stone Serif, and you can use either Stone Sans (designed to go with it) or Linotype Syntax for the sans. All can be used with oldstyle figures (Stone Serif and Sans have to be ordered from ITC not Adobe if you want the OSFs; Linotype's version of Syntax comes with OSFs.)

10pt Linotype Sabon paired with Linotype Syntax, both with OSFs, also works beautifully.

Don't try to get cute and stylish with the body copy, except to use oldstyle figures instead of liner figures. Use your headline choice of sans for your big style statement.

blank's picture

The audience is luxury lifestyle…

Why are all the luxury magazines always looking for fonts on a tight budget?

jayyy's picture

LMAO James!! That'll keep me going for days!

I guess that's why these guys have so much cash.

Höfe's picture

How about Newzald for body, maybe a thin sans for heading (Newzald is quite sturdy/slightly heaver than a lot of regulars so a contrast could be nice at some points).

Stag has a thin weight and is quite nice.

i cant delete my username's picture

Since we're already spending money at H&FJ, the Proteus Project (Acropolis, Leviathan, Ziggurat and Saracen) are all great chunky black headline fonts that (correct me if I'm wrong) were designed originally for rolling stone. The idea is that all four have the exact same character width, allowing for equal interchange of them all. Then again, you don't want to be a copycat, and rolling stone isn't exactly the same audience either.

crossgrove's picture

John S.,

I would think that being located in New York would make it obvious to you that magazine publishing is a high-turnover, fashion-driven area of design. Are you actually suggesting that a new design for a lifestyle/entertainment magazine (not a series of books) use Stone Serif? Way to embalm a design. Cute and stylish are actually front and center in magazine design, however upsetting this may be for you.

"Never, but never, consider sans for body copy: nobody wants to read that much of any sans"

This is like your repeated squawking about font pricing; it's intended to create the perception that everyone wants what you want. Iif you would be bothered to look around, you will discover that many, many magazines (again, not books) use all kinds of sans faces at all sizes, including for editorial material. The categorical rejection of sans designs reveals your conservatism, something that has little place in magazine design.

In a word: speak for yourself.


I'm not sure why you fixate on the highest prices, for the complete superfamilies. It's quite possible to develop varied, rich layouts for magazines with a modest family. The Verlag and Neutra families I linked to are $200 or $250, not $400 and $500. Do you need every single style, width and weight? Examine how you would use the type, and then make a corresponding purchase. For $500 you could get 3 wonderful, versatile families that would serve you for years. I don't find that the condensed variants are nearly as useful as the regular widths. Also, Neutra has text and Display variants, and you could just use the Text variants for everything; a sans like that scales well. More savings.

Also take a look at packages and families from Storm; he has made collections you might find useful, and there are superfamilies that might work for you: Anselm and Amor; both have serif and sans variants. Look at them by categories for font pairing ideas.

Jongseong's picture

I'll just pipe up to say that I'd love to see Anselm in a magazine design!

mondoB's picture

Whether you should use sans or serif for body copy just depends on how text-intensive your publication is. In the case of art mags with short articles well broken by white space and images, sans works perfectly well, but it should be the more interesting ones with aggressive personalities, like DTL Prokyon, Annivers, or Linotype Giacomo. Most magazines do not offer such an environment, however; needless to say, it's not about conservative vs progressive, a meaningless distinction in design today; it's about what is suitable *and* is interesting.

jupiterboy's picture

Way to embalm a design. too funny, that must go out on twitter or at least be engraved

If you wanted to try a sans and the writing wasn't too long I would second Amor mentioned above (although the serif has a pretty strong flavor) and also Apex New, which sets very conservatively and could give you some room to breathe in a narrow column, and also has a huge range of alternate characters.

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