Desert Island Fonts - Round 2 | June 20, 2005

If you could only buy 6 fonts, what would they be?

Andrei Herasimchuk

Helvetica Neue

You just can’t go wrong with Helvetica. It has a timeless feel to it, and is one of the most perfectly readable fonts at any point size. It goes in and out of season, but it is guaranteed to remain a solid choice no matter what’s in fashion.

Gill Sans

It’s almost become a cliché at this point, but Gill Sans still warms my heart. It’s got personality a thousand times over no matter how often you see it, and it remains distinct no matter how often it is over-used. Great on business cards at low point sizes to retain readability with character. Great on large format printing for the exact same reason. It makes for a perfect counterbalance to almost any serif font that you would use for body copy.


As one can tell from my logo mark, Bodoni is one of my favorites. A classic that projects confidence, sturdiness and a calm energy no matter how wild the design. Bodoni is history, and is a constant reminder of how our language and our art evolved over hundreds of years. I love to use it for body copy for book design.

Adobe Jenson

Reminiscent of the classic fonts of the Renaissance, Abode Jenson does a great job of capturing that hand-cut feel of the master typographers of old. It’s a great font for body type, but also work wells for headlines. Adobe’s Pro version has plenty of ligatures, small caps, swashes, European characters and old style variations on characters to keep the most demanding type connoisseur content.

Trade Gothic

Easily one of my favorite grotesque style fonts. This font is perfect for any headline or large format printing. It also does a damn good job with captions.

These are my “safe” choices. They are the ones I find I turn to over and over when stuck in a design problem, or when needing to ground my work in a solid, confident, timeless type face. So, for the last choice, I’ll pick something I’ve been experimenting with as of late that I find interesting and out of the ordinary.

Voluta Script Pro

I love the hand drawn characters in this font. Call me a fuddy duddy, I don’t care, but lost is a time when people’s penmanship was so interesting and full of character.

Russ Weakly

Helvetica Neue

A wide range of sans serif weights and styles within one font package


See above


I use this to death - probably should be banned from using it


Great for movie posters and older atmospheric Museum-style sites (though the lack of lower case is a pain)


Nice serif font


Range of serifs and semi-serifs

Mark Boulton


Number one has to be Helvetica. Why? Well, for me, it communicates European culture. Also I think it has the perfect lower case ‘e’.

Mrs Eaves / Baskerville

Mrs eaves is probably the best interpretation of Baskerville, particularly it’s ligature set. Distinctive typeface, with a contemporary balance.


Can’t beat a bit of Garamond. Wonderfully legible and sophisticated without trying too hard.


The Helvetica of the 90’s. Used to death during that decade but it’s still a timeless classic.

Gill Sans

If you ever need a typeface to say ‘British’, this is it. Although the lower case ‘a’ at heavier weights is pretty grim.

Verdana (but only at a small size)

No list would be complete without Verdana. A relative baby in the world of typeface design but it has helped define a medium. Superbly legible at small size.

Posted at June 20, 2005 9:09 AM


Jon Hicks said on June 20, 2005 9:23 AM

You see Greg Storey! Helvetica! Pah! ;o)

Zachary Lewis said on June 20, 2005 12:56 PM

I am surprised that Verdana only made it onto one list. I do agree that large Verdana can be combersome, but for almost any website or web text, I haven’t found anything that beats it.

Andy Budd said on June 20, 2005 1:39 PM

Admittedly I did ask people which fonts they would buy to avoid too much repetition of system fonts.

Jeff Croft said on June 20, 2005 2:26 PM

Verdana is specifically designed for on-screen use and really doesn’t work well in any other capacity. It is also unattractive at greater than about 13 pixels tall. It’s not particularly beautiful and it’s not particularly flexible, so I don’t think it’d make my list. Verdana is only what is is because it’s the best typeface we can count on being installed for web pages. It’s a good face for what it was intended for, and Matthew Carter is a brilliant type designer, but Verdana isn’t anything special outside of web circles.

Ian said on June 20, 2005 11:07 PM

So Andrei is still around. That’s good to see.

Egor Kloos said on June 21, 2005 8:06 PM

I’m actually surprised Verdana made on to any list at all. Typographically I think it stinks, but along with Georgia and Tahoma these fonts served their purpose well. Type on screen isn’t the best of combinations and in an imperfect world these comprimise fonts hit the mark. I certainly wouldn’t buy a font that already comes with my OS.

MrsEaves, Din, Frutiger, Mini 7, Joanna, TheSans (thesis).

tiny said on June 22, 2005 5:16 PM

The first in my list is Bookman Old Style. Is there anyone who agree with me? I think it’s elegant and it’s easy to read.

inguna said on June 23, 2005 4:29 PM

Interesting to see personal preferences. A few of mine incluce: Copperplate, Lucida Grande, ITC Isadora Std and Penumbra Sans Std

Joey said on June 24, 2005 9:56 PM

I agree with you, Tiny. Bookman Old Style is my first choice of font for a text-based document of any real length. It’s beautiful, and my eyes never tire of reading it.

Terrence Wood said on June 27, 2005 1:38 AM

In print: Thesis.

Screen: Bitstream Vera. It’s free, cross platform, and the has best monospace font ever.

Verdana is kind of like helvetica with a better x-height and less detail, so you get 13px legibility when sepcifying 11px =)

Zaur said on January 4, 2006 2:36 PM

On web pages, I use only 6 times of fonts, because only these ones compatiable and default in any computer.
Verdana, Tahoma, Arial, Times New Roman, Garamond