Typefaces with large x-height and low contrast

satya's picture

I am looking for sans-serif typefaces with large x-height and low stroke contrast. Also, something which you think might be legible on a low-resolution device such as Television. I have read a couple of similar threads on "Fonts for the Television" but I want something new.

Any recommendations?


ben_archer's picture

Hi Satya

Well we all want something new... but all I can think of is er, Avant Garde Gothic?

eliason's picture

ITC Kabel

paragraph's picture

Shameless plug, Bentwood :)

Dan Petter's picture

Vectoras x-height should be large enough for anybody, and there's no contrast to write home about either. I have no idea about its on-screen behaviour, though.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

The Zeitgeist is currently against high x-h, so there is not a lot of new material out there — maybe you should look into the lesserknown oldies around. Eg Century Gothic.

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

cuttlefish's picture

I'm working on something. It still needs some tweaks but might be along the lines of what you're looking for, if you can wait a few weeks-months.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

See what I mean? Typedesigners are already hopping on the train: high x-h is becoming the next hot thing soon.

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

Jongseong's picture

I'm a bit confused about the large x-height criterion. Something like Fedra Sans has a larger x-height, it seems on first glance, than Avant Garde Gothic or Kabel. But lots of contemporary sans serif designs have comparable x-heights, and even old standbys like Helvetica don't differ that much on x-height. Cuttlefish's Californian Grotesque, I'm sorry to say, has a tiny x-height relative to all the designs mentioned.

So does Fedra Sans fit the bill? Or should we look for even larger x-heights?

poms's picture

FF Clan maybe. Or more subtle, FF Milo.

cuttlefish's picture

Well, the plain weight x-height of CaliGrot is pretty average but the extra bold is getting up there, though it's kind of disguised by having tall ascenders too.

OK, maybe it's not what we're looking for over here

Frode Bo Helland's picture

The x-height will always be relative to the ascenders/descenders length (and cap height).

typerror's picture

"The x-height will always be relative to the ascenders/descenders length "



cuttlefish's picture

yes, and cap-height too

Frode Bo Helland's picture

That's an extreme example, Michael. Would you say it has a large or small x-height?

The other way to define x-height would be something like: measure the letters width vs height. In other words, a condensed typeface would have a really large x-height.

typerror's picture

You said always... I just responded to that : )

Edit: Scriptina and Zapfino, although I hate to use those in the same sentence.
As to the x-height of Koch's face , it is pretty normal! Less than the 1:5 ratio but still normal.


Frode Bo Helland's picture


Well, I still think my observation applies.

typerror's picture

Sorry Satya, did not mean to hijack the thread... just reacting to Frode's comment.


Just because a face is narrow does not mean it has a large x-height, it just means it is narrow. Koch's face is not extreme, it just has high ascenders.


typerror's picture

"In other words, a condensed typeface would have a really large x-height."

I am trying to relate this calligraphically. If I were to cut the height of a normal ascender in any given lettered face then the x-height would go up... right? Condensing a style and keeping the as/descenders the same has no effect on the xh! To me a lot has to do with the height to weight ratio and the height of the as/descenders. You are testing my understanding so thank you Frode! I am wondering about the standard definitions now.

We need to question the dictionary on a regular basis.


paragraph's picture

I always understood the x-height concept as a proportion of the type size or "slug" of the typeface. In other words not only related to the cap size or ascender but a whole line:

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I don't think a narrow typeface has high x-height, I just used it as an example of how it could be understood if we didn't have the common understanding of x-height as the proportion of the whole "slug" (slug minus ascenders and descenders).

I first stated that "x-height will always be relative to the ascenders/descenders length (and cap height)".

paragraph's picture

Yes, I agree.

Don McCahill's picture

Whoa, this thread is messing with my mind. I suddenly start envisioning a Multiple Masters kind of program, except that instead of just providing different weights, it would be able to control the x-height (by changing ascender and descender heights). Simple programming for largely vertical characters, but a lot of challenges for sloped strokes like on the y and g.

Uli's picture


Why don't you use Devanagari fonts? They always have large x-height. Look at the word "satya" written in Devanagari, and you'll see what I mean. If I were an Indian, I would use Devanagari instead of Latin.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Both Fedra and Lexicon (and probably many other) have versions with different x-height, Don. No automated workflow, though:)

satya's picture


I am looking for Latin typefaces – what do you mean by using Devanagari fonts instead?

We are working on a custom Devanagari typeface for a local Hindi news channel. They have asked us to first select a Latin typeface which could be used as companion with Devanagari. We did submitted a proposal for a custom Latin typeface as well, but they said they don't have enough budget for both the scripts.

Jongseong's picture

I wonder how Antique Olive will work on screen. Crazy, perhaps, but still...

Just digging through some MyFonts tags:


typerror's picture

Sorry Frode

I was working waaaaaay too many hours straight and my mind turned to mush. Stare at a simple problem long enough, with glazed over eyes, and it gets complex.

I was trying to say what Jan showed above and now realize that you were saying the same thing.

With apologies... Thread rerailed : )


dezcom's picture

"I am trying to relate this calligraphically"

1. If a given script is 15 pens high from ascender to decender and the xheight is 5 pens high;
2. If a given script is 15 pens high from ascender to decender and the xheight is 10 pens high;

Which script has the large xheight?

Comsider the xheight as a ratio to cap height or body height.


Reed Reibstein's picture

Ronnia has a large x-height and is about as new as they come.

typerror's picture

Exactly what I was trying to say above Chris but lack o' sleep got in the way. I threw the Koch face in because I consider it an anomaly.


sim's picture

Satya: I'm probably out of what you're asking for and of course it's a “selfpromotion” of my first ever typeface but I think you could consider Migration Sans to fit your needs. I draw it with that kind of feature your looking for. And it's new (last february). Apologies if I make something wrong with this selfpromotion.



Matthew Lujan's picture

Flama? Maybe not exactly a large x-height, but prominent? I don't know. I just love Flama.

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