Fonts used in the 80s

pandatornado's picture

Hey Typophiles

I sure hope someone out there can help me.
Currently i am in the middle of writing an essay about the style in the 80s, including everything from fashion to magazine design.
I am having a bit of trouble though finding any info on what types of fonts where used back in the 80s, for magazines, ads and the likes.

If someone could direct me towards some sites with info, or perhaps share some examples on fonts and how they where used, that would be fantastic.

Thanks in advance :)

J Weltin's picture

Look for the work of Neville Brody, for example.

typothecary's picture

or Roger Black

Chris Dean's picture

Brody would be closer to mid-90’s. It would help people respond to your question if you told us where you have already found:

oldnick's picture

The 1980s was a period of transition in the design-typography business. At the beginning of the decade, phototypesetting was supplanting hot and cold metal composition; and, by the end of the decade, desktop publishing was on its way to making dedicated typesetting equipment and its operators quaint curios of the past.

As I remember it, the ITC effect—classic typefaces re-imagined with larger x-heights—was a strong current, as was a lot of homogenized design occasioned by the limited range of typefaces available on Macs.

riccard0's picture

Christopher, check your link ;-)

Nick Shinn's picture

Industria, developed for The Face.

However, Industria was not available as a font until 1989, IIRC.

Among the earliest digital foundries were Adobe, Emigre, FontFont and Font Bureau.

Laserwriter bundled fonts, 1985:
Avant garde Gothic
Zapf Chancery

cerulean's picture

Helvetica as body copy. Avant Garde Bold for display. ITC Garamond. Souvenir. Friz Quadrata. Eras. Bookman with swashes. No end of "futuristic" and "computery" display lettering constructed with a compass and straight-edge. The chrome effect, first by airbrush and then with the infancy of 3D graphics.

I assume public libraries still have periodical archives. Go to one and pick out a bunch of magazines from the '80s to see for yourself what they looked like.

Nick Shinn's picture

I always thought that the American agency with the most stylish typography in the 1980s was Fallon McElliggott Rice, Nancy Rice being the art director.

Every year back then, Communication Arts advertising awards annual was filled with their print ads (it was a swan song era for type-house-set print advertising) with massive, tightly set headlines like the ones shown here:

You see, it wasn't just about the fonts, but about the way they were set, by people who spent all day just nuancing headline settings.

Nick Shinn's picture

Thermonuclear protection:

cerulean's picture

Ah, yes, the tight settings. That influenced me so much that it still seems normal, and any unkerned space just seems glaringly vast to me. I hadn't thought about it before, but I suppose that the trend was commanded by the fresh novelty of phototypesetting's ability to overlap type to that degree.

Nick Shinn's picture

It wasn’t that fresh in the ’80s, more of an apotheosis.

JamesM's picture

> I assume public libraries still have periodical archives. Go to one
> and pick out a bunch of magazines from the '80s

Good idea, but most libraries will have archived magazines that old on microfilm, which is still useful but it's not quite the same as browsing through a stack of physical magazines.

HVB's picture

In addition to magazines and advertisements of the period (relatively easy to find with search engines), instruction manuals for consumer products tend to use contemporaneous typography.

.00's picture

in the 80s NYC advertising was using a lot of:
Futura ExtraBold Condensed
ITC Garamond
ITC Cheltenham
ITC Serif Gothic

I remember being fixated on the serif structure of ITC Cheltenham. It seemed to be on every poster throughout the subway system.

hrant's picture

the serif structure of ITC Cheltenham

I call those Doric* serifs, which I used -even more literally- on Maral, my first decent outline font (although it was a revival, a concept I wasn't even aware of back then :-). Although I was a decade later, I've always adored Cheltenham, and some people say they can still see it in my work (like in Patria's caps).

* The middle style here:


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