Looking for OpenType humanist sans

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Addison Hall's picture
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Joined: 24 Jun 2005 - 9:39am
Looking for OpenType humanist sans
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Well, I am my own boss now and I finally have a budget to build my font library. My current collection has a decent smattering of this and that, but I feel I'm lacking a complete sans family. While I anticipate Mark Simonson's Proxima Nova family will provide an excellent choice for a geometric sans, I haven't settled on a humanist sans.

I know there is a great variety out there, but I'd really like something in OpenType -- not just because of the features, but because I frequently switch back and forth between Mac and PC. Here are a few I'm considering:

FTF Stella and FF Legato are two that I especially admire -- I only wish they were availble in OpenType.

I'd appreciate any advice from those that have used any of these or can recommend other options.

Thanks,
Addison

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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I thought MacOS can now read PC fonts.
Legato all the way.

hhp

Terry Biddle's picture
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Joined: 21 May 2005 - 1:42pm
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It all depends on what you're looking for. Do you want a face with a lot of features, or do you want a face that's a bit more subdued and versatile? I am a big fan of Sebastian, but it definitely has a lot of features and has a smaller x-height than many other humanist faces.

If versatility is what you're after, I'd say go for Nexus.

Chris Rugen's picture
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I agree with tbiddy about Nexus. But I'm a sucker for Dutch type (and Majoor's Scala), so take that into account.

Vista may actually be a more broadly applicable face, though. It's got a strong flavor of Meta to it, which I think might make it more readily accepted by people used to Meta's structure and character. Plus the alternate sets that Dupré designed allow Vista to do some fun, interesting stuff that's unique to the family.

Legato's got the high legibility thing going for it, but its design makes me think of the font used in the BBC series The Prisoner too much. I know, I'm weird like that. But I can't get past it, for some reason.

It's a tough choice between some great fonts that, as tbiddy said, is a matter of specfic desires.

Juergen Weltin's picture
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Joined: 13 Jan 2006 - 6:31am
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Hrant, four years after i discovered this comment :-) Thanks & i hope you still like it.

Jürgen

Addison Hall's picture
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Joined: 24 Jun 2005 - 9:39am
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Hrant, as far as I know, Mac OS X can only read PC Truetype fonts. But I know you're a big fan of Legato, and I understand why. Perhaps I should look into a price break for buying a license for both Mac and PC...

I suppose I am looking for something that's more neutral and not too terribly unique. Some might say that I'm looking for the Minion of sans serifs. I suppose that's why Stella appeals to me so much -- it's simply quiet and well-made.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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Addison, which direction are you leaning toward?

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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I think that there is a lot of diversity in your initial three suggestions, that's why I ask.

Stephen Coles's picture
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Joined: 14 May 2001 - 11:00am
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I thought MacOS can now read PC fonts.
Windows TrueType only.

"The Minion of sans serifs" is probably Myriad.

If you're looking for neutral: FF Unit, FF Kievit, and FF Zwo -- unfortunately not yet in OT.

I think Vista is the only one so far that fits all your requirements.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Legato looks a little bit "different" to us because we're hypersensitive to fonts. Laymen think it's Arial. Especially at text sizes. This doesn't mean more than one font on this planet is a "luxury" (how preposterously animalistic), but it does mean it won't be consciously rejected by the reader; it just applies its functional and aesthetic attributes "below the radar" - like any good text[ish] font.

hhp

Addison Hall's picture
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Joined: 24 Jun 2005 - 9:39am
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Tiffany, of the three I listed above, I'm probably leaning more towards Nexus -- the proportions seem to be more akin to a typical roman serif. Honestly, if you couldn't already tell, my favorite is probably Stella.

I forgot to mention that I've also looked over Jeremy Tankard's Shaker as well -- it also seems very nice.

Myriad would be fine, actually, if it had small caps -- and it didn't remind me of Apple every time I see it. But Kievit, that's a nice one, too.

Stephen Coles's picture
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Stephen Coles's picture
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proportions akin to a typical roman serif
Aha, so now we have a fourth requirement. Lemme think. This is fun.

Humanist, OpenType, neutral, roman proportions...

I don't mean to get too scientific about it, but can you put the requirements in order of priority?

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Tiffany Wardle's picture
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or Pragma

or even Celeste Sans

or maybe Le Monde Sans

Addison Hall's picture
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Joined: 24 Jun 2005 - 9:39am
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Ooooo, I forgot about Fedra Sans -- I just got out my copy of Indy Fonts...

Priority, huh? This is why I love these forums.

  1. Humanist
  2. Roman proportions (this and 1. kind of go hand in hand, don't they?)
  3. Neutral
  4. OpenType

I put OpenType last since technology, I suppose, shouldn't dictate my decision -- a good font will be worth the investment for Mac and PC.

Bliss is excellent, but not humanist enough. (Boy, I sound picky!) I had forgotten OurType -- looks good...

Terry Biddle's picture
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Joined: 21 May 2005 - 1:42pm
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Looks like you're almost throwing the OpenType thing out the window. Based on your ranking and criteria...just get Stella. Go with your heart. You'll never be satisfied unless you get what you truly want.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Not humanist enough? I need to go back to school and re-learn defnitions.

Stephen Coles's picture
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Fresco Sans
Today Sans
Cronos (now in Optical flavors!)

Addison Hall's picture
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Joined: 24 Jun 2005 - 9:39am
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tbiddy, you're probably right. I've emailed FTF and asked about purchasing both licenses.

Tiffany, I'm sure I'm misusing the term because I don't know the word to use. I guess that's a case where I'm referring to "more roman proportions" maybe? What did you think of PTF Costa (you actually designed the specimen, right?)? I know it's not very neutral, but it looks very nice.

Fresco Sans is really nice -- I've downloaded the PDFs.

Addison Hall's picture
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Joined: 24 Jun 2005 - 9:39am
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Tiffany, I'm an idiot -- while looking over the Fresco PDF I've noticed that it's similar to Bliss in some ways, yet I was thinking Fresco was more humanist than Bliss. My definitions need schooling, not yours.

Mr. Feliciano just responded -- I may just go for it.

Stephen Coles's picture
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Mario is a nice fellow.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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I was just joking around, Addison. I'm not a total pedant.

Addison Hall's picture
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pedant a person who is excessively concerned with minor details and rules or with displaying academic learning.

Thanks, Tiffany. ;)

You guys are the only people that I "talk type" with, and sometimes I have to wonder if I really know what I'm talking about.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
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Can't believe no one has suggested Frutiger, or Frutiger Next - all these other suggestions are clearly inspired by the one true original ;-) Is Dan on vacation?

Stephen Coles's picture
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Haha!

Why on earth would you want to dip into an overused well? I wouldn't recommend FF Meta to Addison.

Dan Reynolds's picture
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Joined: 20 Jul 2002 - 11:00am
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No Si, I am sadly not on vacation.
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Simon Daniels's picture
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Sorry to hear that :(

Si

Dan Reynolds's picture
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Joined: 20 Jul 2002 - 11:00am
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Well, thank you!

Here's my type recommendation: Diverda Sans (it has a companion serif, too).

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Stephen Coles's picture
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Aw, Dan. I was hoping you were going to say Beret by Typophile Edwardo Omine.

Dan Reynolds's picture
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Also a good choice.

But I am sad that no one seems to know Diverda.

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Addison Hall's picture
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I had never heard of either Diverda or Beret -- I knew this thread would show me something new.

Stefan Hattenbach's picture
Joined: 7 Sep 2004 - 1:22pm
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Consider Stalemate and Sophisto if you're thinking Sans Serifs.
http://www.macrhino.com

Terry Biddle's picture
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Dan, always the Linotype salesman. :) Oh, and while I've got your ear, do you think you can convince the people at Linotype to start using more glyphs from their fonts in the PDF samples? I make decisions on typefaces by certain select characters. It'd be nice if they included more in their samples.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Simon, come on, it was Mosley.

hhp

Dan Reynolds's picture
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Well, I didn't want to jump in until Simon prompted me.

We are revising our entire catalog at the moment. Both our catalogs, and our PDFs are auto-generated by databases. After the catalog is complete, I'll try to make the next step the PDFs. The new catalogs will be more detailed in their display than any of our older auto-generated ones. In theory, with the PDFs, anything that can be programmed can be done.

Linotype's new OpenType font standard has a character set of somewhere between 300–375 glyphs (all Western, CE, and a few more, sorry for not having the exact number handy) instead of the old 256. So we are looking for ways to bring out these new standard glyphs into our displays.

In other words, we're working on it… the leader of our e-commerce team will be at TypeCon. I'm sure that he would love to hear any suggestions that you (or anyone else) have.
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Simon Daniels's picture
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> Simon, come on, it was Mosley.

The image is supposed to represent a sad Michelin man waving goodbye to F1. Not really saying they're to blame. ;-)

Si

PS. Is Max any realtion to James?

Terry Biddle's picture
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Dan, that's awesome. I did notice some major changes, particularly on that Frutiger Next PDF. Sorry for being off topic...but I have a Vialog question. Vialog seems to be somewhat humanist (it seems based on Frutiger Condensed). I read somewhere that it was based on European road typography...where in Europe is it based?

BTW...Addison, did you actually purchase your full font set, and was the deal to your liking?

Oh...so how come nobody mentioned Thesis? Its a very well designed humanist face...or do any of you feel its over used at the moment?

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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> Is Max any realtion to James?

(Shudder.)

hhp

Dan Reynolds's picture
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Terry, I haven't licensed Vialog myself, but I've gotten to design with it twice. A few years ago, when I was first just an exchange student in Germany, Linotype and the school I was studying at collaborated on a project. Students in this project created advertising & brochure proposals for the Vialog typeface (Werner Scheider, Vialog's designer, was the school's retired typography professor). So the fonts were given to the school for our use.

Since working at Linotype, I have designed a few small ads and marketing materials (posters for conferences, etc) for Vialog.

I don't think that Vialog is directly based off of any traffic signs. In the 1980s, Werner Schneider created a proposal for a European Highway signage face that was not put into use. During the 1990s, he reworked this face into Vialog, which became the house face of the Munich transit system before it became available for licensing. Since 2001–2, everything related to public transportation in Munich is set in this face (from signs down to the fold-up maps that fit in your pocket). This completed face, already tested and optimized for Munich, is available from Linotype as part of its Platinum Collection.
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Addison Hall's picture
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tbiddy, I'm finalizing things with Mr. Feliciano this morning -- he's even informed me that he's working on OpenType versions!

I'll post again when I get a chance. I also thought I'd post a list of types mentioned in this thread plus a few I discovered myself -- just so they're all in one place.

I appreciate everyone's input.

Addison Hall's picture
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Joined: 24 Jun 2005 - 9:39am
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I just received FTF Stella and it's everything I hoped for -- really top-notch stuff. Mr. Feliciano is indeed a very nice guy.

For anyone interested, FTF is working on OpenType and Stella has new weights in development.

Addison Hall's picture
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Joined: 24 Jun 2005 - 9:39am
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Just to summarize our findings (in no particular order)...

*Available in OpenType

Thanks to everyone for putting in their two cents.

arena's picture
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Joined: 12 Apr 2004 - 12:49am
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Since this thread became a very useful list of the best contemporary sans serif faces, I wonder if we all could start elaborating a similar list about the best contemporary serifs out there.

Let me start (in no particular order):

  • Fedra Serif
  • Dolly
  • Sauna
  • Enigma
  • Delicato
  • Andulka
  • Collis
  • Borges
  • Whitman
  • FF Quadraat
  • Andralis
  • Proforma
  • Aquila
  • Farnham
  • Arnhem
Peter Markatos's picture
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Joined: 17 May 2003 - 11:00am
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What about Seria Sans? This to me seems to be an improvement on Nexus Sans, though perhaps a little more highbrow.

Maaike de Laat's picture
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Joined: 27 Jul 2005 - 6:37am
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Hello! I just discovered this thread and I wonder why Versa Sans hasn't been mentioned yet. You can get it from Ourtype and there's also a serif version. Oh- and I think it's a beautiful font :-)

Juergen Weltin's picture
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Consider also Agilita if you are looking for a humanist sans.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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I was recently sent the brochure for Agilita, and it does look nice. It's new, well-crafted and complete - but most of all it's not utterly boring as the typical hum-sans is.

hhp