10 typefaces you see everywhere

In no particular order:
I mean is there another typeface that has an own movie? Univers turned 50 and nobody cared, Futura will turn 80 and I don't see any poster contests or special t-shirts editions coming.
Give me 5 minutes 2 minutes in any city, I'll show you Helvetica. I'll show you Helvetica Neue, Helvetica Rounded, I'll show you Swiss 721, I'll show you Helvetica Ultra Light, Extra Black Condensed, Extended Oblique, Heavy Italic, well you get the picture.

I wrote it in all-caps for a reason, see that R? Ugly. Nonetheless Arial is probably the most used typeface ever, thanks to Microsoft of course, and it's the first typeface on the list quite often. Actually Arial is here as a represantative of all system fonts like Comic Sans, Times New Roman, Verdana etc. My grandma told me: if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all, so I'll stop here.

Dare to be different? Use FF Meta! As a corporate type, for long copy in design magazines, for bold ad headlines, for signage, for just about everything. That was the motto 15 years ago, and now with the beautiful FF Meta Serif on the market, the usage may just explode again.

Advertising agencies love Futura. Fashion labels love Futura. Every big foundry has an own Futura. Why not, it's a sans with no strings attached: a j is only a line and a dot, as fresh as it was 80 years ago. But 8 out of 10 typography professors will tell you not to use Futura for long body copy. But 8 out of 10 people who own Futura never had a typography professor.

FF DIN, or any other DIN is used for everything that is supposed to look cool. Packaging? DIN! Fashion? DIN! Sports? DIN! Electronics? DIN! Portfolio? DIN! You see gray text on black, which is kind of hard to read? You probably see DIN.

Most used of Gill's weghts: Light and Ultra Bold, at least I feel that way. The weird thing about it is that the Ultra Bold lowercase is hideous. No wonder, that weight was designed only to beat Futura Extra Bold. At least the caps are ok.

I have seen one company after another to adopt FF Dax as their corporate typeface, making their logos look like subsidiaries of the ominous DaxCorp. If Google would want to change their logo, they will use FF Dax, I bet.

Frutiger is a typeface I'm admiring my whole (type-aware) life, a work by a true master. Whenever you want a type which is barely there, which offers the shortest distance between information, eyes and brain, choose Frutiger. Choose Frutiger if you don't know what to use, it will look friendly if you write to a friend, it will look sober if you raise an invoice. Maybe because this typeface adopts the emotions of the content, it is used so widely. Number of times I've used Frutiger: 1.

Of course Zapfino's usage reaches it's peak around December 24th, but it is everywhere. When you see Zapfino on a greeting card, it's like writing El Cheapo all over it.
On one hand, Hermann Zapf created a beautiful typeface, the calligraphic precision of which is unmatched. Unfortunately that precision is ruined by the content: the mentioned cheap greeting cards, anything involving Italian cuisine or anything that wants look artsy... Bad karma.

Gotham is a timeless piece, well-spaced, with beautiful numerals, graceful caps. Look at the M, R, G, Q, nothing to add, nothing to take away, proportions that can live on forever. A flawless sans? Gotham is closer to it than many others. And Gotham is everywhere.

Now, in no way I'm saying that the above typefaces (with exception of Arial) are bad and shouldn't be used. I've used some of them, and I probably will do so again. I only suggest that before using a certain typeface just because it's on your hard drive already, you think for a moment if you don't need something more... unique, that could do just as well, or better. There are plenty of alternatives ;)


dan said...

Excellent list mate! I would add Bank Gothic, now that font ist everywhere! Keep up the gret work


v said...

YOu're so right, Meta IS everywhere... So is Helvetica of course

Anonymous said...


I feel much better now.

Anonymous said...

Arial must be the ugliest font ever created. Eurostile is EVERYWHERE quite often too!

Anonymous said...

I say Interstate is REALLY everywhere, that font is following me! It's a great font, but I'm sooo tired of it....!

jeff said...

You forgot to mention FF Fago, now that face is everywhere! :)

Nice site, keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Avant Garde! With ugly self-made ligatures! Annoying!!!