Looking for a complementary font...

superfetz's picture

Hi all,

I'm in the process of developing my own company's stationary. And I therefore need some inspiration for a font that compliments the logo design, and as such could be used as the font for headlines etc. etc.

What do you think of Interstate Regular?

I'm open to suggestions - comment on the logo as well... shoot!

Thanks and cheers

YESYES logotype

hrant's picture

Well, for one thing Interstate has a very strong automotive/transportation connotation*, which might be good or bad depending on what your company does. But also on the formal level I think Interstate is problematic here. I think you need something more "rational", more contemporary. BTW, if you're going to use the font for significant amounts of text, choose a serif one.

* At least in the US.

BTW, wouldn't the logo be better with no extra space in "SY"?


superfetz's picture

Ooops, I've uploaded an earlier version of the logo!!

Thanks for the quick response!

Hrant, first of all my company is not the field of transportation :-) - it's a design agency dealing with identity and corporate design. The font I'm looking for is to be used in stationary and smaller headlines.

Could you give me some examples on the serif-types?


YESYES logo final

hrant's picture

Dunno, maybe a Walbaum?


boon's picture

Avoid Interstate, especially if you are a design company. AIGA uses it liberally - why not differentiate yourself with something like Fedra from Typotheque? They also offer a serif version.

Hildebrant's picture

Quiet about Fedra, that my dirty little secret. ;)

errata's picture

I don't agree that a serif font would be necessarily good for large amounts of text.

It may be controvertial to say this but the idea that a serif font is more readable is very much old-school thinking. Modern research, apparently, suggests that there's no significant difference in legibility between serif and sans today. Remember, "People read best what they read most", and there's such an abundance of both serif and sans serif fonts out there in use everyday.

I subscribe to the principle of identity between content and expression, so the font you choose should reflect the kind of work you do. If it's technology or design orientate, then a Sans Serif is often more appropriate. Unless your design is distinctly retro of course.

hrant's picture

I'm not even remotely old-school, and I have no doubt that serifs help readability. And I believe this not based on much empirical data (99% of it is totally flawed) but based mostly on plain old thought: when you analyze it (for many years), it simply makes sense.

Furthermore, the Emigre mantra is over-simple to the point of being false. It serves mostly as an escape from responsability. Not to mention that none of its proponents have spent more than 5 seconds analyzing Familiarity... But you know what's really ironic? The most fiercely anti-Emigre school (the chirographers) uses the Familiarity escape clause to believe in the exact opposite thing! But of course they haven't thought about it much either...

> the font you choose should reflect the kind of work you do.

Of course. But this is only one piece of the puzzle.


dewitt's picture


If you uploaded the wrong image in the first post then you've done it again in your second one.

Unless, I am mistaken.


I've been reading your ideas so much, I feel as if I've purchased a book by you. Aside from what is up here, do you have any papers I could review?

Not that I agree with your position, but it seems you've done more than enough research.

hrant's picture

I don't know if I should be happy to have invented the Virtual Book Club or if I should demand royalties.

If you get your hands on the upcoming issue of the Czech TYPO magazine about readability, that should be quite useful.


willydslc's picture

hhp, what is the "Emigre mantra"

hrant's picture

"We read best what we read most."
The most that can be claimed in this direction is something like:
"We read better what we read more often."
But of course that's not very rabble-rousing.


errata's picture


I'm interested in the basis of your response to my message and I'm quite open to being convinced. Can you explain a little more please?

(BTW Just for the record, I never read Emigre).

mystic's picture

Is there anything that I can read about why serifs make things more legible? I'm basically just taking everyone's word for it, but I don't know why actually. When I hear stuff like "it just makes sense", I feel embarassed a bit that I don't get it.

hrant's picture

To me the aggregate of data, experience and intuition tells me that serifs help reading. There are bits of empirical research (not much, unfortunately) that makes sense in the context of what most typographers believe about reading and many people believe about human nature. The tons of empirical research that point away from the bouma (letter-cluster-shape) model of reading are simply flawed when you analyze the details; but they shouldn't be ignored outright (even though that's what most empiricists do with anecdotal experience, sadly), they should be assimilated. Every bit has to make sense. And in the bouma model it does.

There's no Proof of this (yet). But I for one think that proof is for lab rats. On the other hand, saying "it justs makes sense" is indeed unfair - it's just difficult to elaborate all the time, especially since this is not actually a simple topic - not at all. It's like E B Huey said almost a hundred years ago, but sadly academic hubris tends to impede self-doubt, tends to put aside the very real paradox that numbers don't lie simply because numbers don't say anything - we just hear them say things, and sometimes we hear what we expect.

I guess a good way to arrive at usable (if tentative) practical conclusions is to strike a balance between personal research and trusting others who have done more research. The former helps gauge the reliability of the latter, and so does putting the latter in context. In my view cognitive scientists can be trusted to generate reliable data, but are not in a position to interpret the data properly, simply because they (generally) lack any anecdotal experience to guide them. They work with assumptions (something inescapable) that originate in a vaccum, or from their own personaly (non-typographic) experience.

Whatever you do though, please don't be afraid to leave the house because you have no proof that a car won't hit you.


errata's picture

Glad I asked.

Don't you think though, that in marketing communications at least, absolute legibility is, more often than not, not an absolute, 100% priority? Not least because the drop in readability between a conventional serif and sans serif font, if either measured mathematically or judge intuitively, must surely be minimal.

The appropriate level of readability is also just one part of the puzzle.

The influence a well chosen font has on an identity or brand is significant and isn't that the context of Henrik's original question, which I don't think we've answered (quite possibly my fault).

Henrik, if you're still there, I'd suggest Frutiger, Bliss or perhaps even Berthold's Imago. None of them are particularly "new" but are clean, legible, look contemporary and are well designed. Each has a good range of weights and should be readily available for both Mac and PC from any good font supplier.

hrant's picture

I'd say absolute nothing is a 100% priority. Absolute anything doesn't even exist! So I totally agree that legibility and readability are simply factors in the balance of compromises that is Design. I for one have no problem making something intentionally hard to figure out - as long as you do it for a good reason. Not because you think breaking stuff is cool.

That said, when it comes to something like a novel, I think the performance difference between sans and serif is actually quite large.


errata's picture


Miss Tiffany's picture

The best thing you could do is show us what you have in mind. My gut tells me interstate might be nice, but you really should show us all of your thoughts.

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