24 typeface you must know

dzobel's picture

I am a graphic designer and professor teaching graphic design. I give my designing with type class 24 typefaces they must know before they leave my class (12 serif and 12 sans serif). I thought it would be interesting to see what typeface you all think are the essential 24 typefaces to learn.

Here are the ones that I have given them:

Serif: Bembo, Bodoni, Caslon, Century Schoolbook, Sabon, Scala, Clarendon, Garamond, Meridian, Mrs. Eaves, Trajan, and Baskerville

Sans Serif: Akzidenz Grotesk, Avenier, Century Gothic, DIN, Franklin Gothic, Frutiger, Futura, Helvetica, Interstate, Neutra, Scala, and Univers

Let me know your thoughts.

-david

Robert Trogman's picture

As a former Graphic Design professor I would include fonts that have historical significance— Serif: Bulmer, Janson, Times Roman, Caledonia, Weiss, Centaur, Goudy Oldstyle, Palatino and Perpetua
Sans Serif: Gill Sans, News Gothic, Meta, Kabel, Optima, Metro, Vogue, Bernhard Gothic, Neuzeit Grotesk and Goudy Sans.

Just a thought.
Bob Trogman

Robert Trogman's picture

As a former Graphic Design professor I would include fonts that have historical significance— Serif: Bulmer, Janson, Times Roman, Caledonia, Weiss, Centaur, Goudy Oldstyle, Palatino and Perpetua
Sans Serif: Gill Sans, News Gothic, Meta, Kabel, Optima, Metro, Vogue, Bernhard Gothic, Neuzeit Grotesk and Goudy Sans.

Just a thought.
Bob Trogman

Robert Trogman's picture

As a former Graphic Design professor I would include fonts that have historical significance— Serif: Bulmer, Janson, Times Roman, Caledonia, Weiss, Centaur, Goudy Oldstyle, Palatino and Perpetua
Sans Serif: Gill Sans, News Gothic, Meta, Kabel, Optima, Metro, Vogue, Bernhard Gothic, Neuzeit Grotesk and Goudy Sans.

Just a thought.
Bob Trogman

Koppa's picture

That's a pretty tight list, but I think you need to squeeze Centaur and Jenson into the serifs (or is that too historic-centric?), and Gill Sans and Avant Garde or Spartan into the sans. What's the history of Century Gothic, anyway? Someone fill me in, please. To me it looks like a knock-off of Spartan, and as far as I know, the Century family designed at ATF never included a gothic/sans. For that reason, I tend to ignore it.

Koppa's picture

Oh, yeah, of course...Goudy, Kabel, and Optima for sure! Trade Gothic? Can you tell I live in the past?

Robert Trogman's picture

THE TYPES SELECTED ARE STILL IN THE PRESENT

dzobel's picture

Thanks for the comments! Some typefaces I kept out because although they may be historically relevant they may not be the best typeface. For example Goudy and Palatino are good historically, but are tired and overused and there are better typefaces that I want the students to learn. I contemplated for a long time whether to put in goudy, palatino, and Jenson, but opted for Meridian, Sabon, and Scala instead. Weiss is a nice font I might have to include that somewhere.

As for the sans there are so many that i COULD include that I tried to stay to basic, but sophisticated. Now that I think about it I may take out century gothic and repalce it with Gill Sans.

BOB, Do you think Meta is important to have? What typeface would you take out to make room for Meta?

thanks again

Anymore that you would take out that this group feels is not needed. I really respect everyone's comments and appreciate the input.

david

blank's picture

Why do you have Mrs. Eaves and Baskerville on this list? Do students really need to be able to spot the difference between Mrs. Eaves and other Baskervilles? The same goes for Century Gothic and Avenir—Avenir is just fine. You can also drop Bembo—there are better Aldines on your list and it would make a space for some Jenson derivative. I would definitely work in Meta—it’s a very important face in terms of recent history, much more so than Neutraface.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Well, what does it mean to be "essential to learn" and "know"? Essential that they know how to use the typeface? Essential that they know about it?

Of course it reflects my own biases, but we're talking about 550 years of type design. Picking things that are trendy hardly seems "essential" to me - the last 20 years seem over-represented to me.

I agree with many of the other comments. You really need to include Gill Sans and Optima, and Meta is not a bad suggestion.

I'm not sure I'd include both Century Schoolbook and Clarendon. Pick one, maybe?

Why four geometric sans serifs and only one humanist sans? I know geometrics are "in" but for teaching, Futura alone is adequate. Futura and Avenir at most.

Also, *which* versions of Bodoni, Caslon and Garamond?

dzobel's picture

Thanks Thomas.

The class is not a history class, but how to use typefaces in design. So even though the history is important the goal is for them to learn how to use typefaces in a contemporary way. The reason I have avenier, furtura and nuetraface is not because it is in, but those typefaces can be used for VERY different situations.

Avenier is fantastic at very small sizes 6 and below where futura would not be as good. Neutra is better at larger sizes and not as good for long body copy. Also futura is good, but it is used A LOT and I want to show there are different geometric typefaces than futura. The same reason I have helvetica, Akzidenz and Universe.

Maybe this is my age, but i feel optima is not the best typeface and would rather them design with other typefaces than optima. My personal opinion.

Bauer Bodoni, Caslon Book BE, and Garamond

AndrewSipe's picture

From my personal recollection of intro to typography, I remember learning 2 things... a lot of history and a lot of fonts (memorizing as much the day of a quiz)... most of which I forget now. What I didn't learn about (and have learned since, thanks typophile) is the essential building block for choosing and using fonts... such as why are small caps important or what's the different between OSF, LF, and TF. History is important, don't get me wrong. Explaining where particular faces came from, which faces are the grandfathers to all the new digital faces, and how type has developed over time. Are important towards understanding about why faces are like they are and where typesetting practices originated (it's called leading!)...as Goudy is often quoted, "The old fellows stole all the best ideas."

Take a gander at this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fontshop/sets/72157604597637021/

It's a flickr set from Stephen Coles for Fontshop on Opentype fonts... I think it's a nice introduction to a lot of features that fonts have but are often ignored during the intro to typography stage (which was, for me, more of a primer on history and not technique).

Also Nick Shinn wrote a wonderful article on getting the most out of a type face, especially one with expert features.
http://www.shinntype.com/Writing/DigginIt.pdf

I think the important thing is to give your students the tools for using fonts. To understand how and why a particular font is a better choice for a particular problem (like you shouldn't use a display font for setting body copy)... then allow them to make that choice on their own.

Mark Simonson's picture

What’s the history of Century Gothic, anyway? Someone fill me in, please. To me it looks like a knock-off of Spartan, and as far as I know, the Century family designed at ATF never included a gothic/sans. For that reason, I tend to ignore it.

Koppa, Century Gothic was created in the late '80s by Monotype as a stand-in or substitute for ITC Avant Garde, one of the standard fonts included in PostScript output devices. The name derives from an old Monotype Futura look-alike called Twentieth Century. It's not related to ATF's Century at all. Century Gothic matches the proportions, weight, and spacing of Avant Garde, but has (more or less) the stylistic details of Twentieth Century.

aa101's picture

Gill Sans, Avant Garde and Times Roman is a necessity even though its default on the Mac...?? Maybe no need now?

John Nolan's picture

Caslon Book BE is a rather eccentric Caslon: why did you chose it over Adobe Caslon or Lanston Caslon?

dzobel's picture

Asvetic i totally agree the class is not as much about history as it is about learning how to use the typefaces and in which situations. For example Helvetica Light might be good at a really big, but not as a small body copy and how small can a serif body copy be. Than how can the certain typefaces mix with imagery and how that effects your design. After all that what we as designer do all day.

The 24 typefaces I have them learn is just a way to have have some knowledge of basic, classic, and useful typefaces.

.00's picture

I think if you got your students to understand how to use one serif and one sans serif typeface, you would be ahead of the game.
24 typefaces, or even 10 in a semester is way too much. Come to think of it, two is probably asking too much. Get them to use one in a half way decent manner and call it a good semester.

dzobel's picture

i know it is asking a lot of them, but they need to know these typefaces and at least have an arsenal of typefaces they can pull from. Even if they do not remember all 24 by memory they at least will have that they know. I give them all the typefaces printed out with examples of how to use them.

I do have projects where they are using one typeface, so they get to know that typeface intimately. They also have to create a font 12 page font specimen book at the end of the semester.

They also have other classes that fine tune some of the things you are talking about.

Koppa's picture

> Century Gothic was created in the late ’80s by Monotype as a stand-in or substitute for ITC Avant Garde

Thanks, Mark. I've been wondering about that for a long time, and the connection to Twentieth Century makes perfect sense. It's nice when you can ask a question within a thread and get an answer. Three cheers for Typophile!

AchillesG's picture

i know it is asking a lot of them, but they need to know these typefaces and at least have an arsenal of typefaces they can pull from. Even if they do not remember all 24 by memory they at least will have that they know.

I've always felt that the point is to develop a critical and historical understanding of typography and type-design so that students could then go on and develop their own individual arsenal.

Imho, giving them an arbitrary list - no matter how well thought out the list itself might be - is not a satisfactory substitute for knowledge.

blank's picture

Achilles, I think that’s a bit much for a one-semester class. Better to start the students with a cross-section of history so that they understand enough about type to then make educated decisions about picking their own arsenal later.

FeeltheKern's picture

I agree that it's best to have a historical understanding of type, but in practical terms the majority of students taking typography courses really don't care that much about it. So if they can walk away with 24 good typefaces they can use for life, and understand how to use a few of them fairly well, then that's a good accomplishment.

jessi.long's picture

Completely disagree with that post, unless of course it is because of the professor.

Nick Shinn's picture

None of those faces was designed in the present millennium (with the possible exception of Neutraface).
You may convey the impression that you are somewhat out of touch, or that typography is a stuffy old discipline.

Of course, many practising graphic designers are out of touch, or favor safe "modern" types like Futura, but that's no reason to instill the same narrow horizons in the next generation.

jayyy's picture

NICK:

I really enjoyed your "Perfect Set" article and although I would have changed a few, I liked your rationale for each.

If you had to amend the above or create your own for the same purpose - what would be most relevant for you?

Jay

Nick Shinn's picture

Thanks Jay.
I think the logic holds up pretty well, after a few years, though the types I suggested are a bit out of date now, and they had a Toronto flavor, which one would vary for Baltimore.

In a nutshell:
Choose the genres that designers and art directors may be required to use:
-Serif: display
-Serif: text (includes features such as small caps and various forms of figure, in OpenType format)
-Sans: multi-weight family from Thin to Extra Bold
-Sans: condensed
-Script
-Distressed
-Pixel
-Internet
-Retro
-etc.

Now, choose 21st century faces for these genres, from a wide variety of foundries.

verdiinpink's picture

Come to think of the way you assign your students to know 24 typefaces and think that they can pick one of these to use for almost every design project ahead, I personally don't think it's enough.

I mean, there are only two categories of typefaces – 12 sans serif and 12 serif. What if their next design project has Victorian Vintage with lots of Versal or Gutenberg or Punk Rock with Black Type theme, these ones could not possibly convey their meaning and portrait the needed design requirements.

If your students know about the anatomy of typefaces and some categories or varieties developed through centuries, from Roman Chiselled face (Trajan), Black Text, Round Hand, Humanist, Metal Type, 20th century art movements, to a boom of various digital faces nowadays. And along the way just one significant typeface for them to remember. I think you'll get two purposes at once – your students know about the history & its style and how to pick the right ones from a bunch of typefaces available according to their design needs. Just open their eyes with choices and the style it represents would sound fun to me.

Just my opinion na.

--- pinky kinky winky ---

aszszelp's picture

Hm, add some tracking.

Szabolcs

novas's picture

> [...] I contemplated for a long time whether to put in goudy, palatino,
> and Jenson, but opted for Meridian, Sabon, and Scala instead.

What the font is MeridiAn?
Or did you mean Frutiger's Meridien, which certainly is a pretty, but IMO not an essential typeface?

DrDoc's picture

I don't think it's so important for them to learn how to use these 24 specific typefaces. What's more important is for your students to be able to categorize typefaces, and to learn when their use is appropriate. If they leave your class knowing how to use 24 typefaces, and only 24 typefaces, then they have learned nothing; they aren't learning how to do anything original with those typefaces. If you instead teach them how to categorize typefaces, then you'll get some pretty bad results along the way, but they'll be better designers for it.

This is really a question of imitation versus innovation. If your goal is to teach them how to create consistently good, but not innovative, design with 24 typefaces, then you will accomplish your goal. If your goal is to teach them how to be innovative with type, then you're going about it all wrong.

dzobel's picture

Maybe I should have phrased the question differently than I did. The 24 typefaces are only a part of the class probably 20% the other 80% is learning how and when to use certain typefaces. When to use display type, text treatments, when and how to use body copy, how text can be used as your graphic and not just for information, how to mix text with graphics, pushing and challenging the reader, hierarchy, alignment, grid, typographic color, multi page design, spreads, grids, texture, legibility, etc. I am NOT having them imitate anything. I show them design that ranges from clean and sophisticated to corporate to edgy. The 24 typefaces are only part of that whole class.

Off course I show them the different categories and how to use them and why and maybe it is my fault in how I phrased the question, but it was not meant to turn into what should be taught and what should not be taught.

I posted this because you guys are into typography just as much as I am, maybe more a lot more, and I thought this would be a good topic to bring up. Maybe I should have phrased it "If you had to bring 24 typefaces with you and only 24 which typefaces would you bring?"

Someone posted about showing Victorian typefaces as some of the 24 and that is fine, but that all depends on the client and what style of Victorian or grunge that they want not ONE specific Victorian typeface.

Dylan Wright's picture

Wow, you guys really know your stuff. I think that's a pretty solid list you have there. Coming from someone who isn't a graphic designer and has a limited knowledge of type - here are four not included that I would've loved to have been introduced to in my first 24 typefaces.

Didot
Avant Garde
Rotis - although I realise with only 24 to choose from there is not really room for both Univers and Rotis.
Meta

Just a little perspective from a blind man.

Edit over 4 and a half years later: I like that I can see my old posts, but the poor punctuation was killing me.

Koppa's picture

Speaking of blindness...is there only one Braille type face? Or have there been attempts to design Braille? Is it time to design Braille?

oneelectricfairy's picture

I'm quite suprised that someone suggested Optima. My teachers all hate that font. As students, I think we all really liked it until it was beaten out of us.

I think the inclusion of Gill Sans is an important one.

By the way, braille has been designed if I'm not mistaken. I feel like I saw it designed in some old icon collection books. But obviously, I think it was mostly designed for the seeing, not for the blind. It would be the equivilant of inking the dots, or coloring them.

Also, I agree on the importance of Rotis, it's a beautiful and modern font that can fit a lot of different needs. I think there should be room for Rotis and Univers, as Univers is an entirely different font in my opinion.

And by the way, you rarely get to use a Victorian typeface for anything.. at all.. ever.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Dylan that is gorgeous.

Christian Robertson's picture

Type history is an important topic. Students should know and understand how we got to where we are. However, students are done a great disservice when they are only shown old work. That's why you see so many student pieces that use Serpentine sans. To them everything is new and great.

So my recommendation: do a type history section. Then do a "what's happening right now" section. Show new types as well as old types that are being used appropriately the current cultural context. Show how cultural contexts change (even from year to year).

adnix's picture

Will your school be licensing and installing the 24 faces on the classroom computers? Are the students expected to purchase the fonts for their own computers in order to complete homework? Certain foundries offer student discounts or at least sell individual weights, but price needs to be a consideration as most students have limited funds. You don't want to inadvertenly promote stealing fonts.

David

oneelectricfairy's picture

There isn't a school out there that I know of that helps students get anything. Oh yeah, a student discount is great, but many times its hard to afford the paper, ink, software, hardware and other things. You'll be lucky if the school computers have the fonts that students are expected to use.

I think Adnix has a good point.

dzobel's picture

The schools computers DO have the fonts installed on them for the students to work on them.

oneelectricfairy's picture

I was just posting that because sometimes teachers like to recommend fonts that haven't been included in the computer labs list of fonts. (Mostly because they don't usually update the fontbooks, or add additional fonts than the defaults).

Matt Steel's picture

Has anyone mentioned Gotham? How about TheSans? Trade Gothic? Franklin Gothic? These are all timeless and fairly ubiquitous sans faces, not to mention they are respectively humanized Geometric, Humanist Sans and Grotesques.

Matt Steel's picture

I'm not sure if there is any magic to the number 24; I second others' opinions that it might make more sense to break it down by period style, with 1–2 typefaces for each. For example:

Ancient Roman
Trajan

Old Style Serif
Garamond, Bembo

Transitional
Caslon, Baskerville

Scotch Roman
New Caledonia, Miller

Modern
Bodoni, Didot, Times New Roman

Grotesque
Helvetica, Akzidenz, Univers, Franklin Gothic

Geometric
Futura, Gotham

Humanist
Scala Sans, TheSans

etc...

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