American Sans with good opentype features like small caps? Any suggestions?

mrjono's picture


I'm working on a project where I want to pair a good British serif (I've already opted for Adobe Caslon Pro) with a good American sans serif. The content I'm working with requires both be able to handle small caps. Not a problem for Caslon Pro, but I was working with Franklin Gothic up until I realised it doesn't have small caps, well not the version I have anyway.

Would anyone care to recommend some to me? I'd be very grateful if you could.

Thanks very much.


Reed Reibstein's picture

If you liked using Franklin Gothic, Benton Sans, with its recently added small caps, might do the trick.

And, while I understand that Caslon is considered quintessentially British, I would point out that Carol Twombly, an American AFAIK, designed Adobe Caslon Pro.

mrjono's picture

Hi Auricfuzz,

Thanks for your suggestions, Benton looks great, I'll check it out. I was aware that Carol Twombly designed Caslon Pro, but I'm not being that strict about it to be honest. It's a bit like us Brits still calling Jaguar a British car, when the company is owned by an Indian firm! Does anyone else have any suggestions?

Thanks again.


Jackson's picture

The URW Franklin Gothic has small-caps. Benton Sans is a great option too. I'm not sure either of them have OpenType versions.
I'll plug Alright Sans too, which has OpenType small-caps and is American.

johnbutler's picture

Mr. Eaves from Emigre.

mrjono's picture

Thanks guys! All your suggestions are great. I'm really liking Alright Sans, I think that might be a winner. Mr Eaves is great, but the low x-height might jar with what I'm working on.

Thanks very much for your suggestions guys.

Nick Shinn's picture

If any version of Caslon qualifies as English, then surely American grotesques must also, as the grotesque style originated in England.

What style of sans originated in the US?
How about the "humanized geometric"? e.g. Dwiggins' Metro or Bernhard Gothic? (Admittedly Bernhard/Kahn was German, but the face was published in the US while he was living and working there.)
Or perhaps "low-waisted art deco", seen now in Neutraface.
Also consider ITC Highlander, by Brit Dave Farey, but closely based on the lettering of Oz Cooper.

mrjono's picture

Hi Nick,

You really know your stuff. Thanks very much for your suggestions, but I'm not sure the humanised geometrics you suggested are right for my project, which has a strong political/international law base to the content. As much as I love a low-waisted art deco face, I think they wouldn't suit my content. Thanks though!

Something like Benton or Alright would be quite nice as my content is focusing on the political climate of the past ten years as a result of the war on terror, and those sans are quite recent. I might well end up choosing a European sans if it gives me the flexibility I need, but the project is for an ISTD brief and I really want to have informed choices and not just pick a font because I like it.

Nick Shinn's picture

Perhaps Gotham could be emblematic of US imperialism, as it was the Obama campaign face, and he, despite his Nobel prize, appears to be hooked on imperialism with his recent decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, rather than declaring peace. Gotham is also the face of the 9/11 memorial in New York.

mrjono's picture

Now that's the kind of information I'm looking for Nick! I did know it was Obama's campaign face but I didn't know it was used on the 9/11 memorial. Gotham could be my new choice.

Thanks Nick!

.00's picture

The fix is in...

Nick Shinn's picture

Going which way?

.00's picture

...all directions are the same.

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