Offbeat Sans Fonts
March 17, 2005 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Lately, I've taken an interest in simple but slightly offbeat sans fonts, such as Rotis, Indosans, Elemental, What other sans fonts would you recommend that have clean, simple shapes, with some quirkiness and character mixed in?

Basically, I'm looking for usable yet distinctive fonts, mainly for headers, etc., but that can also be used for body text in, say, a presentation slide. I am already aware of all the "1001 free fonts" sites in existence, so I'm looking for specific font recommendations.
posted by signal to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

And for extra quirky: Suburban
posted by amberglow at 12:38 PM on March 17, 2005

sorry for being off topic but...what's with that second "r" with the line coming out of the bottom in the elemental font?
posted by leapingsheep at 1:10 PM on March 17, 2005

leapingsheep: I think that's one of these: ß. search this page for "sharps"
posted by GeekAnimator at 1:14 PM on March 17, 2005

should've linked to wikipedia, too.
posted by GeekAnimator at 1:16 PM on March 17, 2005

Check Emigre. It's a good place to start.
posted by quadog at 1:30 PM on March 17, 2005

It's "rr" which is treated as a separate letter in Spanish. I don't think it makes sense typographically - not without accompanying ligatures for "ll" and "ch" as well. But that's just me.

Anyhow, you might like Pill Gothic.

Also check out Barry Deck's oeuvre - he has several non-Emigre designs as well.
posted by O9scar at 1:58 PM on March 17, 2005

I dig the Peignot and Penyae fonts. They don't work very well for body text, though.
posted by mds35 at 2:07 PM on March 17, 2005

I really like Scala Sans.
posted by misteraitch at 2:42 PM on March 17, 2005

posted by leapingsheep at 2:48 PM on March 17, 2005

FF Cocon, FF Bau, Gotham, Whitney, Knockout, FF Ginger, FF Hydra, FF Sari, and of course FF Meta.

Neutraface is nice, as is Barmeno, a sort of spiritual precursor to FF Sari, and you might also like FF Nexus Sans, FF Seria Sans, Robert Slimbach's Cronos, which you might still be able to buy as a multiple master, Mark Simonson's deligtful Mostra, which has lots of great alternates, Mercury, and my mind is all tapped out for a few minutes. Whew.
posted by luriete at 3:10 PM on March 17, 2005

Antique Olive is due it's 23rd comeback. Quay Sans is quirkier than it looks at first. Officina Sans was revered by my typographic mentor. Be a badass & learn how to use Univers properly. Frutiger too. (Thats 'Frutt-i-guh'. Originally designed for Charles de Gaulle Airport signage IIRC.) Futura is quirky as hell and don't let anyone tell you differently. And of course the classic, Gill Sans. If you can learn the ways of Eric Gill's second finest creation then the world and everything in it is yours my son.

I'm using Rotis as a reference for 'offbeat' hence the above recommendations. I'm a professional so trust me.

amberglow: There was a time, only a few years ago, when Optima was the USA's most used typeface. Managers always seem to like it...
posted by i_cola at 3:54 PM on March 17, 2005

There is a truly geometric Futura that Spiekermann made a few years ago. INFINITELY better than the abortion that most people use, or rather misuse. Antique Olive? Are you on crack?

What's Gill's finest creation? Electra or Joanna? Ugh.

As for correct use of Univers, you are correct sir. It is about the most subtly beautiful thing ever in the hands of, well, Tschichold. But not really anyone else.

Akira Kobayashi made a pretty keen "pro" version of Optima recently, called Optima Nova, with some amazing display variants and ligatures. I think all the spacing inconsistencies have been cleared up, although I'm not sure if it has optical sizing for really tiny use, which is desperately needs. Linotype sells it.. Here you go. I think they're fooling themselves if they think I'm gonna replace my old Optima license with a new $900 version! Holy moses. Akira needs to be paid, but nobody outside of Chiat Day is gonna pay for that.
posted by luriete at 4:23 PM on March 17, 2005

What's Gill's finest creation? Electra or Joanna?

I think Electra is Dwiggins, not Gill. Either way, the victor in a smackdown between Electra and Joanna would be difficult to predict indeed.
posted by tepidmonkey at 7:59 PM on March 17, 2005

Response by poster: Great answers everybody, thanks. Lots to mull over. FWIW, "rr" is not considered a letter in spanish these days, but the guys over at make a point of making "spanish" fonts, so some have "Ll", "Ch", etc. They're real friendly, and give away Elemental and Indosans by mail, FYI.
Did I mention you're all font-geeks? You are, ifni knows you are.
posted by signal at 8:03 PM on March 17, 2005

Nobody thought of Gill's Perpetua?! I was actually thinking of his Essays on Typography. Typographic, dogmatic & a local boy (to me) made good (if a little pervy).

luriete: Half the fun of getting to grips with Futura is finding the right cut. I've actually de-Futuraed my machine and they ain't coming back until I have to use it.

You're damn right about Optima's opticals. Jeez that used to drive me nuts. I'd be tempted by the EUR900 if only for the peace of mind.

And a few years ago I'd have agreed with you on Antique Olive but I'm slowly seeing the light. It's a classic so ya gotta treats it with respe-ct...
posted by i_cola at 3:09 AM on March 18, 2005

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