Squared Sans or Grotesque

Tom Cannon's picture

Would DIN / ITC Conduit be considered a grotesque font or a "squared font"? Some might classify them as geometric. They seem more grotesque to me.

A difinitive answer would help me with a discussion. Thanks.

Stephen Coles's picture

I put these faces in a category of their own called "straight-sided sans". But I do think they are closer to the grots (like Trade Gothic) than geometrics.

Another early straight-sided sans: Steile Futura and its followers

Other modern derivations: Sophisto, Fishmonger, Morgan, FTF Flama, Stainless, Klavika, Pill Gothic, Cachet, Neo Sans/Neo Tech, PTL Notes

Geoff Riding's picture

> I put these faces in a category of their own called “straight-sided sans”.

That's a nice way of putting it, "straight-sided sans", I've been wondering recently how to categorise DIN which isn't square like Eurostile and Bank Gothic which I put away as "squared sans".

New type designs are continually filling up the gaps between categories so it's often impossible or impractical to place it in one category I think.

Straight-sided grotesque!

Stephen Coles's picture

There's another sans genre that deserves its own name as well, the Spiekersans. These are structurally humanist, but simplified and regularized so that they are somewhere between humanist and grotesque or straight-sided. I think of Spiekermann's FF Meta as the genesis of this category with his FF Unit and Schwartz's Amplitude as followers. Many of Ole Schäfer's faces (FF Fago, FF Info, FF Zine) also apply.

Sorry to stray from your original question a bit.

Miss Tiffany's picture

What about using Neo Grotesque?

Geoff Riding's picture

Neo Grotesque to describe DIN? I don't know, I'm having trouble myself defining "Neo Grotesque", maybe you can help me!

I was going to post a thread about it actually, what is the difference between Grotesque and Neo Grotesque? Franklin Gothic-esque vs Helvetica-esque? I guess I could say my problem is that I see the difference in a histortical context. For example, the earlier english/american grotesques with the binocular g and the usually higher stroke modulation vs the newer german grotesques with the monocular g and the usually monoline strokes.

Sorry if this doesn't make sense, it's a little late in the morning!

Miss Tiffany's picture

No. Neo Grots to describe the aforementioned Spiekersans style.

Geoff Riding's picture

> No. Neo Grots to describe the aforementioned Spiekersans style.

Doh! Too late to be thinking, let alone doing work. :^)

Maxim Zhukov's picture

Hmm, I think the category 'Neo-Grotesque' is taken, and is reserved for the post-WWII 'new and improved' grotesques, like Univers, Helvetica, Folio, Unica, Video, etc. I also think that the condensed versions of many grotesques have straight-sided ovals (e.g., Akzidenz-Grotesk), and that cannot put them in a different classification category from the regular versions of the same typefaces. In my opinion, DIN and Conduit could be pretty safely classified as Grotesques... The same applies to the Spiekersans's, despite their being, well, slightly humanized.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Thank you, Maxim. A friend reminded me of that through iChat.

The squared round or rouded square sans though is different enough from the other Neo-Grots that you listed to merit a new category, I think.

Tom Cannon's picture

I thought even though Amplitude, Vista Sans, Auto, Fedra Sans aren't straight sided, they would be considered "squared sans". They all have the same feel to them. Would all of there be considered "Speikersans".

So Meta and friends wouldn't be considered humanist? I can't see how they could be grotesque.

While I am at it, where would a font like EF Radiant or EF Praxis fall?

Stephen Coles's picture

Radiant is a Univers humanist. Praxis is a Frutiger humanist.

Maxim Zhukov's picture

> So Meta and friends wouldn’t be considered humanist? I can’t see how they could be grotesque.

In my opinion, proportions, which are the primary classifiable features, of 'Meta & Friends' place them firmly in the Grotesque Sans category. Those are the 'Modern' (Didone) proportions: slightly narrowed (round shapes based on oval, not on circle), more uniform glyph widths. However, the open counters for shapes like C, G, S, a, c, e, and s are definitely 'Old-Style', and that—secondary classifyiable—feature relegates them to the Humanist Sans category (which also includes Gill Sans, Frutiger, Eras, Flora, Verdana, etc.). That is why I think that the Spiekersans’s are actually Grotesques, albeit slightly humanized.

Tom Cannon's picture

Thanks for the replies. This is very informative!

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