Presentation fonts to beat Gill Sans

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Brighten Godfrey's picture
Joined: 22 Apr 2011 - 2:50am
Presentation fonts to beat Gill Sans
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A significant part of my job involves giving lectures and presentations, and I like them to look good. So I am in search of an attractive, readable font for presentation slides.

The problem is that I'm having a hard time finding anything better than Apple's Keynote default, Gill Sans.

Gill Sans is great – I think I'm looking for some humanist sans – but it would be nice to have something a bit more unusual, and for which /l/ and /1/ are more distinct.

One problem in matching or exceeding Gill Sans's quality seems to be that it has hit some sort of a sweet spot in weight and/or kerning. For example, the current contender is Calluna Sans. It seems GS is just a bit heavier than CS (at least CS regular; haven't tried semibold), and the effect is that the ratio of space-between-words to space-between-letters is higher in GS than in CS ... so it appears visually easier to pick out words in Gill Sans, and therefore it seems easier to read. Or, maybe that's totally subjective. (Or maybe I should be trying to make presentations harder to read ... but that's another story.)

So I'm wondering whether anyone has suggestions on appropriate fonts, or the kerning/weight issue.

Thanks for your time!

– from a Typophile newbie.

Frank ADEBIAYE's picture
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Joined: 29 Apr 2007 - 4:46pm
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FF Yoga Sans by Xavier Dupré is a worthy alternative:
http://www.fontshop.com/fonts/downloads/fontfont/ff_yoga_sans_ot/

I like also Tschichold by Tschichold, revival by Thierry Puyfoulhoux
http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/presencetypo/tschichold/

Trevor Baum's picture
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Joined: 16 Dec 2010 - 8:57am
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Linotype's Mundo Sans is gorgeous, as is FF Legato.

Brighten Godfrey's picture
Joined: 22 Apr 2011 - 2:50am
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Yoga Sans and Legato both look promising. Thanks!

Fanny Khoo's picture
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Joined: 22 Apr 2011 - 6:05pm
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Gotham for approachability
Helvetica for accessibility
Apex Sans for the design factor

Pablo Impallari's picture
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Joined: 1 Feb 2010 - 1:12am
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You can test my Cabin, it´s free.
http://www.impallari.com/cabin/

James A. Crippen's picture
Joined: 28 Dec 2007 - 7:24pm
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Why sans? I usually use seriffed faces in my presentations. Then again I need a lot of weird characters and diacritics – phonetics, uncommon languages, semantics symbols – so there aren’t many decent sans faces that fit my needs. But is there a reason why one should opt for sans over serif in a presentation?

Brighten Godfrey's picture
Joined: 22 Apr 2011 - 2:50am
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Thanks for the additional suggestions. I'm told that sans serif is more readable, especially at a distance. It seems a good idea to err on the side of more readable, especially if one might encounter unfamiliar presentation conditions. Still, I'm not sure how much of a difference it actually makes. Serif might be fine if one uses reasonable font sizes (which many people don't).

Fanny Khoo's picture
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Joined: 22 Apr 2011 - 6:05pm
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Cool Pablo - thanks for Cabin x

As for sans-serif fonts for presentations, they seem to read better (even at small sizes), and is more informal.
Although, I do alternate sometimes with serif headers/titles/captions/quotes

Brett Regehr's picture
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Joined: 16 Apr 2011 - 2:10am
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I would actually argue that serif typefaces are easier to read.
Let us take books for an example, they are all written in a seriffed font. The serif's give fluidity when reading, hence the reason why all books are written in it.

A clean san serif typeface is usually more appropriate for headings and advertisements. Main reason why they are used in most advertisements is for their clean look and appear more modern then serif fonts.

However you did mention that this was a presentation, which I'm assuming entails the use of a projector. If it's a bad projector, you might want to go with san-serif because some lower end projectors cannot project serif's in a clean manor, making it messy and harder to read.

Brighten Godfrey's picture
Joined: 22 Apr 2011 - 2:50am
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BrettR: That's right, one sometimes does encounter poor-quality projectors, and the other problem is that you sometimes have people sitting far away.

There's a new thread on this topic so I thought I would post with what I concluded. (Not much of a "conclusion" really, just personal preferences of someone who is not a professional designer...)

The most attractive font I found was http://Ideal Sans. Absolutely beautiful but prohibitively expensive for me: I often need to post public PDFs of my slides and this requires an extra license that starts at $150 per style per year (!!).

Also quite nice: Yoga Sans, Agilita, Sensibility, Calluna Sans, Apex Sans.

Others: Sancoale, Agenda, http://Whitney, Legato, Tschichold, Mundo Sans.

For me personally, Sensibility or Calluna or just sticking with Gill Sans are currently the top choices. Finally, you might take a look at this thread with many suggestions: Looking for OpenType humanist sans.

Andreas Stötzner's picture
Joined: 12 Mar 2007 - 10:21am
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No license hazards:
Lapidaria

:-)