Most important fonts

FontShop Germany created a special web site,, which lists the 100 best typefaces of all time. An international jury assembled the overview based on sales numbers, historical relevance and aesthetic qualities. The nice looking site and matching PDF-file provide many interesting details about the choices that were made.

I have taken the liberty of listing their 33 first entries below. For more detailed information, check the full overview, which is also available in German.


One of the most widely used sans-serif typefaces. Read more…


A classic old-style serif typeface, named after Claude Garamont. Read more…


Originally a sans-serif but also available in serif versions. Read more…


Alternates between fashionable and outdated once every decade. Read more…


Roughly ninety years old but still as popular as ever. Read more…


Commissioned by British newspaper The Times in 1931. Read more…

Akzidenz Grotesk

‘Grotesque’ as in ‘early sans-serif’. Read more…


Definitely a typeface for the 1990s, made for the contemporary office.

Gill Sans

Originally designed for the fascia of a bookstore. Read more…


My personal favorite. Read more…


Classic, yet modern looking. Read more…

Franklin Gothik

Gothic was a contemporary term meaning sans-serif.


A 20th-century revival of a 15th-century typeface. Read more…


Optimal for signage, but suitable for setting text as well.


A very large and thus versatile typeface family.


A Monotype classic from the thirties


Its unique character quirks make it open, warm, and very graceful.


Popular as a corporate typeface.


One of the first typefaces to be specifically designed for digital typesetting.


Widely used for signage and technical applications. Read more…


Constructed in 1986, using as few interpolation points as possible.


Optimized for automatic reading devices. Read more…

Avant Garde

Designed for the magazine with the same title. Read more…


Pity I cannot show all the variations of this versatile typeface. Read more…


A design from the early sixties by typographer Jan Tschichold.


This one stands out, doesn’t it?

Letter Gothic

Originally created for use on IBM Selectric typewriters.


One of the first typefaces designed entirely on a computer.


Readability was its main design goal.


One of Adobe’s first OpenType Pro fonts.


I find this one intriguing. Read more…


Released by Agfa and later reissued by Monotype. Read more…


Popular in science fiction novels and film artwork. Read more…

Quite surprisingly some classics such as Avenir, Palatino, Caslon or Benguiat don’t show up at the top of the list, even though they make it to the Top 100. The last font to make it to the list at place 100 is Mistral. Obviously others may have another opinion about these fonts, so it also pays to look at the list of most hated fonts.

27 December 2014

4 responses to “Most important fonts”

  1. Saga says:

    Yes, some of the best. Thanks for this informative font article.

  2. Marcin says:

    Hi, you have picked the elite of fonts. I also like Zapf typeface. But, these fonts I use every day.

    All best

  3. Colin says:

    Not to be a crazy person but I love LOVE Courier. It is a classy readable, elegant monospaced font that dominated Industry, government, and science for 30 or 40 years. It conjures up the overbuilt, straightforward American design that built the flying fortress and invented the computer. For decades U.S. diplomatic transcripts were addressed in the font that stated clearly: We are a simple people, but we are not stupid.

    Blown up in vector format one finds its utility is founded on elegance and grace in design. It is a great, and rare success in the application of modernist principles. And to top it off, it has aged exceptionally well. Even today, the programmers of the world find themselves falling back on typewriter Courier, which has born pixelation with the grace of a sharp and beautiful elder woman at the head of a multi-billion dollar military contractor.

  4. VicTheBrit says:

    A bit serif-shy there.

    Whatever happened to Clarendon?

    As an EFL teacher producing materials for foreign students, clarity is important. I settled on Clarendon by way of Century, Century Oldstyle and Times.