Alternative Typefaces

by Christoph Koeberlin

Sick of Helvetica? Sick of Gotham? The professor always recommends Rotis? Typefacts helps! Here I show you the best alternatives to old-established and inflationary used fonts:

“Helvetica is like toast. It tastes like nothing, but you can put anything on it.”

— Erik Spiekermann,


The classic par excellence, seen everywhere, known to everyone.

Neue Helvetica – The reference · Max Miedinger, 1957
FF Bau – The warm and friendly Helvetica · Christian Schwartz, 2002 (1880)
Suisse BP International – The Swiss descendant · Ian Party, 2011
Replica – The edgy Helvetica · Norm, 2008

See also:

Adesso, Akkurat, Aktiv Grotesk, Akzidenz Grotesk Alright Sans Armitage, Ascender Sans, Atlas Grotesk, Balboa, Basic Commercial, Chalet Book, Classic Grotesque, Corporate S, Dada Grotesk, Dagny, Dane, Doctrine, Embarcadero, Encore Sans. Etica, Executive, Fakt, Figgins Sans, Flama, Folio, Founders Grotesk, Galaxie Polaris, Gedau Gothic, Gira Sans, Gothic 725, Grot10, Grotesque 6, Heldustry, Imago, Knockout, Korolev, Maison Neue, Malmö Sans, Maple, Maquette, Maxima, Monotype Grotesque, Neue Haas Grotesk, Neutral, Neuzeit S, New Rail Alphabet, Paralucent, Plan Grotesque, Post Grotesk, Preface, Rational, Recta, Runda, Schulbuch, Sixta, Standard, Substance, Supria Sans, Synthese, T-Star, Theinhardt, Titling Gothic, Trilogy Sans, Trilon, Trivia Grotesk, Univers, Urban Grotesk, Venus, Vonness


“Helvetica of The Aughts” – At the latest since Barack Obama made it his house font, the most widely used sans serif.

Gotham – The reference · Tobias Frere-Jones, 2000
Avenir Next – Adrian Frutiger, 1988; Akira Kobayashi, 2003
Nobel – Sjoerd de Roos, 1929; Tobias Frere-Jones, Cyrus Highsmith & Dyana Weissman, 1993–2003
Foundry Context – David Quay, 2005

See also:

Apertura, Avenir, Boing, Brandon Grotesque, Burin Sans, Carisma Gothic, Clan, Colfax, Cytia, Dessau, DIN Neuzeit Grotesk, Eagle, Effra, Elliot, Erbar, Fenomen Sans, Futura, Gibson, Houschka, Interstate, Journal Sans New, Metric, Neutraface, Neuzeit Grotesk, Neuzeit S, Nobel DTL, Proxima Nova, Regular, Remo, Soleil, Sonar, Super Grotesk, Superla, Sweet Sans, Telefon, Zeppeli

Gill Sans

Gill Sans – The Original · Eric Gill, 1931
Bliss – The contemporary Gill · Jeremy Tankard, 1996–2007
Tschichold – The German-French Gill · Thierry Puyfoulhoux nach Jan Tschichold, 2003
P22 Underground – The raw Gill · P22, 2007 (Edward Johnston, 1916)

See also:

Agenda, Astoria Sans, Berling Nova Sans, Camphor, Diet, Documenta Sans, Edward, English Grotesque, Equip, Flex, Freight Sans, Fresco Sans, Granby, Houschka, John Sans, Johnston, Karbon, Keep Calm, Legacy Sans, Legato, London, Milo, Ministry, Mr Eaves Sans, Mundo Sans, Nexus Sans, Novel Sans, Quire Sans, Relato Sans, Rowton Sans, Scala Sans, Solitaire, Sterling, Supra, Teaspoon, Today, Velino Sans, Whitney, Yoga Sans

The folks at FontShop have also created a “FontList” of their Gill alternatives. Questioning Gill Sans by Stephen Coles (Typographica).


As with most old typefaces, there is no one Garamond, but many different interpretations. Any original that is assumed to be by Claude Garamont offers a great deal of room for interpretation, and on top of that, not every type designer starts from the same original. I have chosen Stempel Garamond as a reference, but below I list a lot of other Garamond interpretations as well as alternatives.

Stempel Garamond – My personal reference · D. Stempel AG nach Claude Garamond, 1925
DTL Documenta – contemporary and elegant · Frank E. Blokland, 1986
Fabiol – unpolished and strong character · Robert Strauch, 2005
FF Absara – edgy-modern · Xavier Dupré, 2006
Cronos – sans-serif and soft · Robert Slimbach, 1996

See also:

Agmena, Andron, Anziano, Augereau, Dolly, Eason, Eason, Ergilo, Espinosa Nova, Freya, Galliard, Harfang, Jannon STF, Laurentian, Le Monde Livre, Lexicon, Livory, Lyon, Maiola, Malabar, Minion, Novel, Old Claude, Portrait, Poynter, Quadraat, Relato, Requiem, Sirba, Trinité, Trump Mediaeval, Van den Keere, Vendetta, Verdigris

Garamonds until you drop:

1530 Garamond, Adobe Garamond, American Garamond, Classical Garamond, Elegant Garamond, FB Garamond, Garamond (Ludlow), Garamond Premier, Garamond SB, Garamond Simoncini, Garamont Amsterdam, Italian Garamond, ITC Garamond, LTC Garamont, Monotype Garamond, Original Garamond, Sabon, Sabon Next, Stempel Garamond, Typoart Garamond, URW Garamond

The folks at FontShop have also created an overview of some Garamond variants.

FF Dax

FF Dax is considered a pioneer of spurless writing and represents the entire genre here.

FF Dax – The pioneer · Hans Reichel, 1995
Etelka – die warme Spornlose · František Štorm, 2005
Karbon – the Gill among the spurless · Kris Sowersby, 2009
FF Netto – the round, technical spurless · Daniel Utz, 2008

See also:

Aeonis, Akko, Aller Sans, Anca, Beau Sans, Bruum, Co, Cocon, Conto, Daxline, Generis Simple, Isonorm, Kava, Maven, Max, Mic 32, Neo Tech, Noa, Phoenica, Rehn, Ribera, Rubrik,Sari, Satura, Schmalhans, Signa, Ubuntu Sans, Veto, Xenois Sans


Univers (Next) – The Original · Adrian Frutiger, 1957
Galaxie Polaris · Chester Jenkins, 2004
Maxima · Gert Wunderlich, 1963/64
Trilon · James Montalbano, 2009

See also:

Akkurat, Aktiv Grotesk, Akzidenz Grotesk, Basic Commercial, Bau, Benton Sans, Bureau Grot, Chalet Book, Corporate S, Dagny, Dane, Doctrine, Encore Sans, Executive, Fakt, Flama, Folio, Frutiger, Gedau Gothic, Graphik, Heldustry, Helvetica, Heron Sans, Imago, Knockout, Korolev, Malmö Sans, National, Neutral, Neuzeit S, Paralucent, Plan Grotesque, Rational, Runda, Suisse, Synthese, Titling Gothic

Extended sans serif families

Formally not always close to Univers, but also with a large number of widths and weights:

Akzidenz Grotesk, Ardoise, Benton Sans, Bureau Grot, Clan, Corpid, Dax, Fago, Fago, Frutiger, Good, Helvetica, Heron SansImago, Knockout, Korolev, Maxima, Plan Grotesque, Taz, TheSans, Titling Gothic, Trilogy Sans, Trilon, Trivia Grotesk, URW Grotesk, Zeppelin