Typeface Categories: Blurred Lines ?

oobimichael's picture

Hi... what started out as a novice attempt to organize a publishing firm computer network and design assets (from art scraps to fonts), I have personally been intrigued by how difficult it is to accurately categorize the Sans-serifs. Various forums have pointed to the 'g' as a defining marker... but this seems to be not always the case...

As an example, the line between 'grotesk/grotesque' and 'neo-grotesk' seems blurry, specifically in modern designs of even historical typefaces (with optical kerning, etc.). So, here is how my first take on drawing the line between grotesk and neo grot (and between neo-grot and humanist, not included in this list). The Humanist and Geometric are also another kettle of fish. But is this correct, so far ?



[Berthold] Akzidenz Grotesk
[OurType] Parry Grotesque Pro
[FontFont] Good Pro
[Paratype] News Gothic BT
[ITC] Franklin Gothic
[Storm Type] DynaGrotesk Pro
[Linotype] Trade Gothic
[URW] Grotesk
[Optimo] Theinhardt

NeoGrotesk (minus DINs)

[Adobe] Antique Olive Std
[Linotype] Neue Haas Grotesk Pro
[Bitstream] Zurich BT
[Linotype] Univers Next
[Font Bureau] Antenna
[Mark Simonson] Proxima Nova
[Font Bureau] Benton Sans
[Monotype-Ascender] Endurance Pro
[Font Bureau] Scout
[Monotype] Azbuka Pro
[Font Bureau] Titling Gothic
[Monotype] Slate Pro
[FontFont] Sero Pro
[OurType] Fakt Pro
[ITC] Avant Garde Gothic
[Paratype] Pragmatica
[Klim] Calibre
[Positype] Air
[Linotype] Helvetica Neue LT Pro
[Process Type] Colfax


Humanist & Geometric (later)

oobimichael's picture

Received feedback from another forum, and Positype's "Air" seems to be classified as Grotesque rather than neogrotesque...

... it's a little weird that no one from this forum (a forum seemingly dedicated to more technical aspects of typography) has commented on the above list...

C'est la vie...

hrant's picture

It's that type classification generally tends to get very hopeless very fast.
Or: Been there, done that. And given up.


oobimichael's picture

@hrant... thanks for the feedback... but I'm not sure I understand why classification is "hopeless"... there is a difference between baroque and abstract art, yes? So, there must be a difference between grotesque and neo-grotesque ?

oobimichael's picture

@hrant... very useful leads... if I can reduce this down to a root observation: the task is partially about "classification" and partially about "utility" ? Meaning, book publishing tends to lean more toward the serifs, but there is a "feel" to publishing in Minion or Arno or even Bodoni (for, say, a Jane Ayre novel) which might not be appropriate for publishing a newspaper (say, Greta or Periodico), or for business reports (say, Kepler or FF More Pro)...
I once saw Orwell's 1984 published using Franklin Gothic which was, I thought, fitting for the stark subject matter...

Anyway... the journey continues...


Frode Bo Helland's picture

I’m not quite sure if I understand what you hope to gain from the classification. Do you wish to sort the typefaces you have licensed according to suitable use?

Is there even a clear definition of neo grotesque? (I tend to think of them as normalised grotesques – as opposed to the “funky” execution of for example Maple) If anything, they should sort under, and not next to, grotesques.

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