Akzidenz Grotesk

AkzidenzGrotesk was the first sans serif typeface to be widely used. It inspired many typographers and can be considered the precursor of Helvetica. Is it any wonder it made it to my list of interesting fonts?

What does Akzidenz-Grotesk look like?

Akzidenz Grotesk typeface example

What do you use Akzidenz-Grotesk for?

Despite its age Akzidenz-Grotesk has a clean and modern look. It is a solid but rather expensive choice for setting body text and head titles. A wide range of typefaces are available, such as light, extra bold and condensed versions. This adds to the versatility of the font.

Since Akzidenz Grotesk served as the source of inspiration for many other sans-serif fonts such as Helvetica, Univers and Folio, these can be considered valid alternatives. Using Linotype’s Basic Commercial is another option.

The history of Akzidenz-Grotesk

The design of Akzidenz Grotesk cannot be attributed to a specific typographer. It is inspired by the Walbaum and Didot typefaces. Its direct precursor is Royal Grotesk, created by German typographer Ferdinand Theinhardt. That typeface was designed around 1880 for setting the body copy of scientific publications.

In 1896 the H. Berthold AG type foundry released the first version of Akzidenz-Grotesk under the name Accidenz-Grotesk. Over the years additional styles got added.

Akzidenz-Grotesk Pro is an OpenType version that was launched in 2006. The 2007 Akzidenz-Grotesk Pro+ update also contains Cyrillic and Greek characters.

Trivia

The American Red Cross uses Akzidenz-Grotesk in its logo and as one of its corporate fonts. It was also used for signage in the New York subway system during the seventies. It later got replaced by Helvetica because that font has a J that is easier to distinguish.

Other sources of information

There is the usual Wikipedia article. You can see all variations on Fonts.com. Tobias Battenberg has created an interesting series of projections using Akzidenz-Grotesk.

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13 May 2017

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