Sans body face - Suggestions?

Duckworth's picture

Hi All,

I'm working on a text book and wondered if anyone could suggest a decent body copy face? I'm drawing a blank here. Main page headings, standfirsts etc. will be set in Bodoni (caps for Headings and italicised for standfirsts); I've been playing around with Franklin Gothic at 9pt with 11pt leading as a suitable body face. I wondered if anyone could suggest anything slightly different to Franklin - legibility is paramount for this document as there's a lot of text. Ideally I'm looking for a face with a narrow measure without being condensed/compressed so as to maximise words on a line.

Any ideas?

Many thanks, Si

RadioB's picture

Futura works great with Bodoni and is one of the best sans serifs for setting extended text.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Not a sans, but still: Bodoni Egyptian.

nina's picture

Does it have to be a sans?

(And Futura for setting extended text? I wouldn't go there.)

Duckworth's picture

Thanks for the suggestions!

@RadioB I'm not a massive fan of Futura - I don't know whay but it's always looked kinda awkard to me - I can't imagine setting body copy in it - there's a lot of text. It's maybe more of a display face?

@frode frank Lovely suggestion but a bit too *searches for the right word*... decorative? The italic is lovely, I'm going to bear that one in mind for some other projects!

@nina I have to agree, I don't think I'd set body copy with Futura! I'd prefer a sans as a foil to Bodoni. I've been looking around and quite like the look of Lucas De Groot's Taz III. It's not necessarily out of the question to use a serif, but thought it might clash with Bodoni rather than accompany it? What would you suggest?

Jackson's picture

Sounds like a good case for Alright Sans

RadioB's picture

"Futura is one of the most rhythmical sanserifs ever made. Its proportions are graceful and humane-close to those of Centaur in the vertical dimension. This helps to make it suitable for setting extended text." Bringhurst

Duckworth's picture

@Jackson Nice - thanks very much for pointing it out, I'd not come across it before.

@RadioB Surely it comes down to personal preference? As much as I like Bringhurst's work, I'm just not personally keen on Futura; I've always found it slightly awkward. It's not got particularly narrow glyphs in its book weight, and for the amount of text I need to set, it wouldn't make sense to set it condensed - it would be quite difficult to read.

Mat Lucas's picture

I have always found Scala Sans great for small print in copy, not so sure if it will suit your taste and/or Bodoni.


RadioB's picture

Yes you're right it definitely comes down to personal preference at the end.
I was just making the point that it is actually used for extended
text and that many designers have been 'there' and continue to go 'there',
obviously if you feel that its not right for your work then thats different.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

Futura: doing well for body text in the hand of the master typesetter. In the hands of others it is likely to mess the text up.

Another direction: ‘humanist’ sans classics like Syntax, Gill, Frutiger … even Fedra Sans.

And of course, Lapidaria would be a distinctive choice ;-)

Nick Shinn's picture

A lot depends on the particular Bodoni.

ITC 72 is a "handmade" interpretation of the effects of letterpress printing.
Bauer Bodoni has finesse.
Berthold Bodoni is like a slab serif at display size.
&c. &c.

nina's picture

Re Futura: What Andreas Stötzner said. It's very hard to use well for text; its uniform shapes don't exactly predetermine it to be reader-friendly.

Humanist sans fonts do tend to read [more] nicely; my favorite sans for text would be Legato; and I can't help but think of Rotis (possibly the Semi-Sans)* – but will any of these click with Bodoni? I'm not sure.

(* Even though that's hard to use well too [if for other reasons].)

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I read a novel set in Futura once and the only things that stood out was the question mark. I've also seen Minion (text) paired with Didot (quite large display) and it worked like a charm even though the pair goes against the usual advice. An option to consider is using two or more optical sizes of Bodoni (ITC) or Didot (HF&J).

The obvious sans match for a modern is, IMO, a grotesque or a geometric, but they're rarely good for extended text. One face that comes to mind though is Grotext.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Another modern text face: Ingeborg.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

And Fayon.

Nick Cooke's picture

Organon Sans is a very clean legible sans which is suitable for headlines and also text.

Sye's picture

I second the Alright Sans suggestion, having use it for long texts, it's great.

Robert Trogman's picture

When using a sans serif as text type I prefer to use shorter line lengths and flush left.

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