What Are Your Top 5 Fonts and Why? | December 14, 2004

I have to say that I’ve never been very adventurous when it comes to my choice of fonts. I guess if you come from a print background you’re used to dealing with different fonts on a daily basis. As a web designer into his accessibility, I tend to avoid “text as images” wherever possible. As such most of the time I end up using commonly installed fonts like Verdana, Georgia or—if I’m feeling a little wacky—Lucida Grande.

When choosing fonts for headlines and logos I tend to go for safe choices like Gill Sans, Helvetica, Frutiger, Futura etc or fonts like Dax or the extended versions of Akzidenz or Metrostyle. I’ve got stacks more fonts available to me, but I always tend to choose the ones I’m familiar with. I really like distressed fonts but never manage to work them into the stuff I do. I also like script fonts and am apparently not alone, but again they don’t often fit with my commercial work. I’ve got a bit of a fetish for pixel fonts and have far more than seems feasible. I mean how many ways are they of writing the alphabet in 8 point type? However because of their small size and relative inaccessibility, I tend not to use them much these days.

So in a quest to diversify my font usage I’d like to know what your 5 favourite or most used fonts are, and why you like them.

Posted at December 14, 2004 10:14 PM


Sam said on December 14, 2004 11:28 PM

Futura Book - Thin and sexy, I use this a lot for screen work.
Verdana - I use this a LOT, the nicest of the accessible fonts in my opinion.
Gill Sans - Again, used a lot, a safe font.
AdineKirnberg-Script - probably my favourite script font at the moment.
Helvetica - for print, I dable with the entire family.

Rob Mientjes said on December 14, 2004 11:37 PM

Yay, typography.

1. Futura, as it works on many styles.
2. Clarendon, still the most tasty egyptienne around.
3. Myriad. Classic, great M.
4. Frutiger as it is a classic and works on so many things.
5. Adobe Garamond Pro, the best render of Claude Garamond’s ‘originals’.

Dan Mall said on December 14, 2004 11:38 PM

I’m really into strong san serifs right now, so this list is slightly biased towards san serif.

1. Trade Gothic (specifically Bold Condensed No. 20): it can really get a powerful message across when you need to.

2. Franklin Gothic: same reason.

3. HelveticaNeue: it comes in so many weights that you can always find the perfect san serif within this family.

4. Clarendon.

5. Univers. See reasons 1, 2, and 3.

Chris Vincent said on December 14, 2004 11:45 PM

1. Futura
2. Helvetica (I still think it’s sexy)
3. Century Gothic
4. Gill Sans
5. Didot

aj said on December 14, 2004 11:53 PM

Mine all come from retro-nostalgia and anglophilia:

1. P22 Underground, the Tube font that inspired Gill Sans. A really nice, more contemporary alternate is Font Bureau Agenda, quite graceful.
2. Font Bureau’s Grotesque family.
3. Another vote for Clarendon - it’s just all over London.
4. The Univers family, because it was used all over Expo 67, the Montreal metro system, and in the 1976 Olympics identity system.
5. Plantin (goes by different names) — another ‘default’ English typeface used on about 10 zillion paperback books.

Which reminds me — anyone remember that old BA Junior Jet Club magazine, Fleetwings?…I was looking for some 1970s-era back issues to scan for a project…

Cameron Adams said on December 14, 2004 11:57 PM

Not necessarily my favourites, but most used:

1. Myriad (nice and clean, but not too sterile)

2. Garamond (utilitarian print body text)

3. Univers (good for “modern” headings)

4. Swiss 721 (different weights produce vastly different feels; thin is good for “fashion”)

5. I’ve got more serifed fonts at home, but I can’t rmember any of their names.

Feaverish said on December 15, 2004 12:22 AM

1) Futura — any of the lighter weights
2) Lucida Grande — I think OS X sends subliminal messages forcing the user to like this font
3) Clarendon — kind of hurt by overuse at Starbucks, but still a beautiful font
4) Interstate — not condensed
5) ITC Caslon Founders 30 — I think that’s the worn–out looking one

Silus Grok said on December 15, 2004 12:47 AM

Helvetica Neue
Century Schoolbook
Adobe Garamond Pro

Silus Grok said on December 15, 2004 12:55 AM

Oh. Forgot the why.

Helvetica Neue and Univers are both really lovely: I like the simple lines and the readability… and how they’re just a little modern without feeling like *wallpaper. I like Univers in the condensed weights, especially.

Melior is a fine serif that has modern sensibilities… and it’s nice to read. It doesn’t work well large, but it’s a good choice in body text.

Century Schoolbook — it’s a classic, and I like the serifed fonts.

Adobe Garamond Pro… it’s just a must-have: perfectly legible without being anonymous.

Andrew Hume said on December 15, 2004 1:16 AM

For someone who tries to avoid text as images wherever possible, your header image is pretty, er… texty. ;)

Kevin Tamura said on December 15, 2004 1:36 AM

My favorites at the moment are:
Mrs Eves
Thessis (both serif and sanserif)

I’d like to get and use some of the fonts from House Industries and Emigre’s Brother

Jeff Croft said on December 15, 2004 1:55 AM

Of course, my favorites change about once a week, but here’s five that come to mind right away…

1. Swiss 721
2. ITC Conduit
3. Mrs. Eaves
4. Monark
5. Kontrapunkt

And, for display/design fun, I’ll just say that anything from Font Bureau, House Industries, and Letterhead Fonts usually rocks my world.

Jonathan Fenocchi said on December 15, 2004 4:08 AM

1. Verdana
2. Georgia
3. Trebuchet MS
4. Cardinal
5. French Script

I like these all for about the same reasons. They all can obviously be used in different situations, but I like them all primarily because of how they look to me. I can use script text for anything fancy (Edwardian Script, Monotype Corsiva, or French Script), I can use something simple and sans-serif for body text (Arial, Verdana, Trebuchet MS), and I can use something extravagant for headers (Cardinal/Cardinal Alternate, a lot of different Gothic or Olde English fonts).

Way to go, though, Andy. Let’s see more typography in the web design industry. :)

kelet said on December 15, 2004 5:04 AM

My favor font for the text body is Trebuchet MS,cs it’s very delegant in my view.
and the title or the bigger size text i like to use Georgia.
And another three is:Stencil(feel like print ),Footlight MT Light (rather plump )and Gill Sans MT Condensed

Rogier said on December 15, 2004 8:37 AM

1. DIN Mittelschrift
2. Rotis Sans Serif (and Semi Serif)
3. Dax
4. Scala Sans
5. Swift
6. Clarendon
7. Trade Gothic
8. Gill Sans
9. Stone Sans
10. Helvetica Neue

Ischa Gast said on December 15, 2004 9:25 AM

1. Helvetica Neue
2. Din Mittelschrift
3. Dax
4. Rotis Sans
5. Arial (webtext)

Mark Boulton said on December 15, 2004 10:07 AM

1. Helvetica
2. Baskerville
3. Garamond
4. Verdana
5. Gill

Rogier said on December 15, 2004 10:33 AM

Ischa, I like your list ;)

dave said on December 15, 2004 10:37 AM

Bit of an issue with the “make textarea bigger” sends me flying back up to the top of the page, not great in the useability stakes!

Richard Earney said on December 15, 2004 10:48 AM

Gill Sans Light (not such a fan of any other weight)

Ehrhardt (great face for legibility and saving space in long text docs/books)

Lucida Grande (maybe we are being brainwashed - but it is a good brainwash!)

Silkscreen (still the best pixel font)

Meta (great everyday sans-serif)

Fonts I hate:

Comic Book Sans
Arnold Bocklin/Ringlet (the staple of the curry house)
Most ITC bastardizations of fonts
Melior - horrible when set in books!

Andrew Stewart said on December 15, 2004 11:51 AM

1. Meta
2. Dax
3. Melior
4. Bell Gothic
5. Gill

good topic ;)

Mad said on December 15, 2004 1:23 PM

I’m sorry but are you trying to say there’s life after Verdana? ;)

dusoft said on December 15, 2004 2:04 PM

Arial, Times New Roman, Courier New

ubiquitous, usable and well known on the web ;-)

Ste Grainer said on December 15, 2004 2:59 PM

Some of my most recent favorites for headings:

Adobe Garamond Pro
ATF Clearface

Franklin Gothic
FF Sari


For body copy, I prefer Adobe Garamond Pro in print and Trebuchet MS on the web.

Matt Carey said on December 15, 2004 3:18 PM

1. Swift [wonderful for text and small sizes]
2. Univers [just a classic]
3. Frutiger
4. Celeste [Chris Burke has designed a modern yet classic serif]
5. Trade Gothic

nick said on December 15, 2004 4:15 PM

CopperPlate Gothic - bold and unique.

otherwise see the above lists. ;)

mark s said on December 15, 2004 4:50 PM

1. Adobe Jenson Pro
2. Helvetica Neue 75
3. Gill Sans
4. Eclat
5. Alternate Gothis No.2

Sara said on December 15, 2004 6:41 PM

1. Meta
2. Brioso
3. Myriad
4. Minion
5. Goo Goo Gjoob (just for fun - interesting script font)

Dan Rubin said on December 15, 2004 7:28 PM

I find my selection to be a little limited (read: repetative) of late too, and am working on expanding it by force :) That said, here are my current top-5:

1) Helvetica Neue (entire family, weights used as-needed)

2) DIN (both regular and condensed)

3) Myriad Pro (thanks to Didier, I found new interest in this family)

4) Frutiger (classic)

5) Avenir (again, thanks to Didier I started liking and using this family)

iShane said on December 15, 2004 9:17 PM

1) Helvetica Neue - Great font that I have only recently gotten into.
2) Univers - very readable sans
3) Trajan - a likable Serif title font
4) Zapfino - a nice script, considering it is distributed with every mac
5) Optima - terrific sans for the mac

parasme said on December 15, 2004 9:52 PM

1. Neuropol by Ray Larabie (I tried to talk him out of giving this font away).
2. Serapion by Frantisek Storm
3. FFF Minute (Fontsforflash)
4. Gill Sans by Eric Gill in 1928
5. FF Unit by Erik Spiekermann and Christian Schwartz

Jina said on December 15, 2004 10:10 PM

um… comic sans and wingdings are the only fonts that should ever be used.


I’m a Helvetica junkie at heart, but recently I’ve been enjoying News Gothic Std (the one I’m using on my site’s headings). I love the fonts over at misprintedtype.com - but I rarely find the opportunity to use them.

Daniel Knibbs said on December 16, 2004 6:50 AM

Top Sans:

DIN Mittelschrift
Helvetica Neue
Lucida Sans
Myriad Pro

Top Serifs:

Mrs Eaves
Jansen Pro

All are in no particular order, and I probably left a few out that should have made “the grade”.

Jeff Minard said on December 16, 2004 8:07 AM

1. Verdana
2. Trajan
3. Kabel
4. Minion
5. Century Gothic

My list changed drastically this last few months as I just finished a course in typography :D

Marc said on December 16, 2004 10:03 AM

  1. Frutiger
  2. Lucida Grande
  3. Palatino
  4. Gill Sans
  5. Clarendon

Ian said on December 17, 2004 9:57 AM

Akzidenz (extended) - classic and sexy.
Adobe Garamond Pro - a beautiful and elegent serif with a great ampersand.
Helvetica Neue - clean and perfect.
Optima - a sans with all the class of a quality serif.
Clarendon (especially the light weights) - ripe for a comeback.

Kev said on December 17, 2004 10:07 AM


All very clean, classic sans. If I could sneak a sixth in it would be Helvetica Neue.

j. brotherlove said on December 17, 2004 7:32 PM

1. Trebuchet MS
2. Georgia
3. Arial Narrow
4. Univers
5. Copperplate SB Light Condensed

Charles Roper said on December 19, 2004 2:02 PM

In no particular order:

1. FF DIN - it’s everywhere, but it’s good. Looks great on-screen.

2. FF Kievit - Used to good effect by Todd on the PGA sites. Behaves really well on-screen and has beatiful small caps.

3. Trade Gothic - sturdy, reliable; makes a change from Helvetica.

4. Mrs Eaves - Elegant, yet sweet.

5. Minion Pro - A nice and versatile serif.

There’s a good issue of Computer Arts Projects out at the moment dedicated to typography. There’s an article in there about this season’s rising and falling typefaces, as chosen by some of the design world’s rock ‘n roll stars. Worth a look - it’s a great issue. Here’re the lists:

10. Trade Gothic
9. Mrs Eaves
8. ITC Legacy
7. Chalet
6. Goudy Heavyface
5. Egizio
4. Eurostile
3. Memphis
2. Bodoni
1. Amplitude


10. Triplex
9. Serpentine
8. Hobo
7. Exocet
6. Mata
5. Rotis
4. Gill Sans
3. Futura
2. DIN 1451 Mittelschrift
1. Bank Gothic

Josh Ames said on December 21, 2004 4:36 AM

1. Myriad
2. Baskerville
3. Clarendon
4. Zapfino
5. Georgia