Typefaces no one gets fired for using

~ 29 August 2006 ~

Make a list. Tested typefaces that are rock-solid reliable for print, web, or both.

I’ll go first:

Tag, you’re it.

Update: Phoebe suggests we also list the typefaces you should be fired for using. Dan Mall already took care of that.

An Aside

What if some of these typefaces were in the public domain and installed on a large majority of web user’s computers, thereby making them available as HTML-rendered fonts and not just as image text? Coincidentally, Andrei Herasimchuk makes this very argument and invites others to in An Open letter to John Warnock. Two of the fonts mentioned here are on the list.


Veer Veer: Visual Elements for Creatives.
Stock photography, type, and killer tees. Genuinely recommended by Authentic Boredom.

1   Sean Sperte ~ 29 August 2006 at 10:09 AM

I keep using Avenir over and over and haven’t gotten fired. (Could just be a trend though. Gimme five more years.)

Additionally, I think the Officina family is pretty genuine.

In the DIN neighborhood, Conduit always makes my projects look nice.

2   Rick Curran ~ 29 August 2006 at 10:32 AM

Um… Frutiger

3   ACJ ~ 29 August 2006 at 10:53 AM

Lexicon; Trinité; Versa; Productus,;Documenta. I’m probably biased though: all these typefaces are from Dutch designers, of which the last three are former teachers or mine.

4   pete ~ 29 August 2006 at 10:57 AM

How about FREE typefaces? Along the lines of Bitstream Vera fonts?

5   Kristin S. ~ 29 August 2006 at 11:06 AM

I am obsessed with Frutiger and I need to stop using it so much. But maybe just a few more projects…

Agreed on DIN — I love it as a web font, along with Myriad and Futura.

For print or identity, I like Optima, Bembo, and Serlio.

One of my favorite script fonts is Spring Light. Quick and breezy, but unique enough that it doesn’t scream, “This font came pre-installed on my computer.”

6   Enrique ~ 29 August 2006 at 11:07 AM

I like “serial fonts”… Helvetica Neue

7   Brian Sweeting ~ 29 August 2006 at 11:17 AM

- Gotham
- Helevetica Neue
- Akzidenz Grotesk
- Clarendon
- Electra
- Bembo

8   nat ~ 29 August 2006 at 11:32 AM

I’ll second Futura.
Also Sabon, Univers and Gotham.

9   Kris Hull ~ 29 August 2006 at 11:33 AM

10   Dan Boland ~ 29 August 2006 at 11:37 AM

Loooooove Warnock Pro. A beautiful alternative to Georgia. I’m also a big fan of Trade Gothic, Frutiger and DIN.

11   Kris Hull ~ 29 August 2006 at 11:43 AM

I almost forgot… The Thesis family by Luc(as) DeGroot is probably the best font family in the universe.

12   Bruce Halliday ~ 29 August 2006 at 12:06 PM

I think this is a grand idea, but I question why the onus should fall squarely on Adobe’s shoulders? Surely there are other Foundries or type designers out there that want to contribute to the evolution of the internet. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Herasimchuk about turning this into a grassroots movement, there must be enough support from the online design community to make any foundry want to open a typeface to the public domain.

13   Andrew ~ 29 August 2006 at 12:07 PM

  • Franklin Gothic
  • Caslon Pro
  • Jensen
  • Warnock Pro
  • Meta
  • Trebuchet

14   Shelley Paulson ~ 29 August 2006 at 12:25 PM

I’ve been using the free font Delicious a lot lately.

15   jharr ~ 29 August 2006 at 12:44 PM

  • Meta
  • Frutiger
  • Balance
  • Scala
  • Warnock (apparently like everyone else…)

16   garrett ~ 29 August 2006 at 12:51 PM

17   Keith ~ 29 August 2006 at 01:00 PM

I love Avenir, Helventica Neue, Akzidenz Grotesk, Frutiger, Caslon Pro. Not that much different from many others.

18   Shane Guymon ~ 29 August 2006 at 01:16 PM

My favorite contemporary font:
Handel Gothic

American Typewriter ITC

One of my all time favorite fonts is:
Myriad Pro


I’m also a fan of Helvetica Neue, Warnock Pro, and Rosewood.

19   Andrei Herasimchuk ~ 29 August 2006 at 01:37 PM

To answer Bruce’s question, it doesn’t have to fall on Adobe’s shoulders. If the design community can get other typogrpahers to release a few fonts, that’s be great!

It’s just that given my past with Adobe, I know a lot of people there, so I’m attempting to use my connections. Also, Adobe has an in-house typography department filled with dedicated lovers of type whom I’m hoping to nudge with my post. And I also know John Warnock. I know just how much the man is passionate about type, so I’m hoping to appeal to this side of him, as I truly do beleive he is the kind of man that would be willing to do this.

I’ll also admit two of my choices are based purely on my admiration for Robert Slimbach. Jenson Pro and Warnock Pro are my favorite fonts these days, and the work spent on the details in the extra characters, ligatures and alternate faces are just superb. I’m hoping one of the fonts released, if that happens, is a creation of Mr. Slimbach.

20   Janji ~ 29 August 2006 at 01:54 PM

using a lot:


21   Jeff Croft ~ 29 August 2006 at 02:23 PM

A lot of good choices in here (but Bitstream? Seriously? I mean, they’re nice for the price, but I wouldn’t call them “rock-solid reliable for print”).

Let me just add Dutch Type Library to the list. Just about everything they offer is brilliant. Also, Underware has some beauties (even if a few are display faces). I would have a hard time living with Dolly.

And also Apex Sans from Thirstype is one I never get tired of using.

22   Julian Stahnke ~ 29 August 2006 at 04:22 PM

Why has noone else mentioned Chaparral Pro yet? It’s my favourite typeface.

Apart from that, I’d like have the usual suspects … Frutiger, Myriad, Garamond, Gill Sans, Helvetica Neue, Jenson, Meridién—and a way to use proper small caps and old-style figures, of course ;)

23   Bryan Culver ~ 29 August 2006 at 05:47 PM

Hey Cameron,
Thanks for the list. I was looking for a font today for an essay I was working on and I couldn’t find any good fonts.

24   Kevin Cannon ~ 29 August 2006 at 06:01 PM

I can’t believe nobody has mentioned Trajan Pro yet.

Aside from that, I would have to agree with the general list here, especially Myriad Pro.

25   Dan D. ~ 29 August 2006 at 06:03 PM

Wanted to share 9,800 free fonts:


26   EACH ~ 29 August 2006 at 06:11 PM


27   Andy ~ 29 August 2006 at 08:04 PM

Unfortunately, Rosewood is incredibly overused. I’ll start using it when it falls out of style.

28   phoebe ~ 29 August 2006 at 08:17 PM

Second DIN and Helvetica Neue. Also Adobe’s Garamond Expert set has never failed me. And I’m glad someone also brought up Thesis — I love that family too!

How about another thread: Typefaces (or fonts) you should be fired for using?

29   paul ~ 29 August 2006 at 09:19 PM


Nice post, Cameron -

30   Cooper Mor ~ 29 August 2006 at 10:04 PM

Proxima Nova and Trajan Pro.

Also, is Trebuchet MS starting to bug other people, as much as it bugs me?

31   Emile ~ 29 August 2006 at 10:11 PM

For some damn reason, I can’t stop using Humanist 521 - Regular:

Or 521 light:

And one of the more difficult ones I find myself challenging my skills with, though I love it is Huxley:

and last, but not least, is Interdimensional:

32   Kyle ~ 29 August 2006 at 10:34 PM

One of my favorite typefaces is Minion, (specifically in print). I love how it is used in the book Elements of Typographic Style. It is such a large family, and there is so much you can do with it.

Another font that I have been using lately is Garth Graphic. It has wide counters, and easy to read at small sizes.

33   Scott Orchard ~ 29 August 2006 at 11:18 PM

Mrs Eaves
Trade Gothic

These are some of my favorites right now

34   Nathan ~ 30 August 2006 at 07:21 AM



35   Gy ~ 30 August 2006 at 07:28 AM

There are a lot of really nice typefaces listed here, but I’m really against using text in images for headings etc. Is bad form, makes it extremely laborious to maintain/edit and isn’t dynamically friendly.

Get sIFR’ing (http://www.mikeindustries.com/sifr/) and get those lovely fonts on some sites!

36   timmay ~ 30 August 2006 at 07:36 AM

Shouldn’t be used everywhere but, for certain applications I like:
Maiandra GD

Otherwise, I have a hard time finding fonts that really complete me…

37   Jeff Croft ~ 30 August 2006 at 09:03 AM


It sounds like you think we’re talking about web design here. Cameron made it pretty clear in his post that we’re simply talking about great typefaces, and not specifically their use on the web.

Something tells me the print designers in the audience aren’t going to get a lot of out sIFR.

38   Cameron Moll ~ 30 August 2006 at 09:48 AM

…and sIFR, as fantastic as it is, is still a “fix” with its own share of issues.

39   James John Malcolm (AkaXakA) ~ 30 August 2006 at 10:00 AM

Nobody ever seems to get fired for Comic Sans…

40   Peter G. ~ 30 August 2006 at 10:08 AM

Myriad and Minion would definitely be on my list. They’re both wonderful, especially together.

41   limbo ~ 30 August 2006 at 10:09 AM

Mrs Eaves
Helveitca Neue (aka ‘the rock’)
Bello (I love you)
Verdana (web)
Avante Garde

42   Paul Vaughn ~ 30 August 2006 at 10:32 AM

Here’s my vote:

Helvetica Nue
Akzidenz Grotesk
Franklin Gothic

runners up:
I’m a sucker for Trajan and Requiem used judiciously.

43   Dennis West ~ 30 August 2006 at 12:33 PM

I would agree that Bodoni is a very usable font, but NOT in the bold weight. It becomes an entirely different beast in bold.

Some other fonts that I really like are:
Book Antiqua
Officina Sans (though I think this is on the verge of being dated very 90s)

I also like using fonts for what they were meant to be used for. For example, I really like Verdana on screen as body text, but as a large headline or in print it looks awful! I don’t mind Trebuchet MS for print as much, but I still think it’s best to use it only in on-screen applications.

44   Scott Stafford ~ 30 August 2006 at 01:43 PM

It’s true, I love typography. I own (yes own) nearly 4,000 fonts. Back in the day, when I had any time I played with MacroMind Fontographer ;-) … I digress.

Fonts, yes… I’m glad to see Avenir and Sabon getting their just attention. Here are a couple I don’t believe I’ve seen on this post.


Truly great for anyone tired to the over used Futura (or every Gill Sans). Don’t get me wrong Futura is one of the most flexible fonts every made. I use it everyday as two of my clients have it a part of their brand standard.

ITC Legacy Font Family (serif and sans)


Veer is just a dangerous place for me. They have some very nice fonts.

ITC Berkeley Old Style

A very complete font set, … note to user - if you are using any italicized font, use a font that has a true italic, not an emulated one. Thank you very much.

45   davey ~ 30 August 2006 at 02:18 PM

- - - - - - -
- - - - - - -


That’s really all I’ve got to say. That remains right for me SOOOOOO much of the time.

(OK…that and Futura, Franklin Gothic, Helvetica Neue and Trebuchet)

But Rosewood Fill is the DEAL!

46   Mb. ~ 30 August 2006 at 05:09 PM

I haven’t been fired yet for using:

  • Meta (thanks for that freaky g Erik!)
  • Myriad Pro (although I’ve used it enough I almost feel I should be fired for it)
  • Adobe Garamond
  • Bodoni
  • I haven’t yet, but I very much want to put Verlag through it’s paces

47   Upton Au ~ 30 August 2006 at 10:12 PM

Modern 20.

48   Matt Williams ~ 31 August 2006 at 05:43 AM

Stare at ITC Stone Sans Medium for a while and you will realise it is the most elegant font on the planet. Incredibly well balanced.

49   A D ~ 31 August 2006 at 11:04 AM

This doesn’t seem like a fair fight… the fonts you *should* be fired for using tend to be ones in the public domain while the ones most people here are suggesting are pay-for-play. Does this just support the idea that you get what you pay for? How about your 5 favorite free fonts?

50   reese ~ 31 August 2006 at 11:26 AM

I’ve taken a liking to humanist lately, too.

Mrs. Eaves
Gill Sans
Bodoni (though it’s more stylized than most)

As for what you should get fired for using:
…and many others, but much of it is personal taste, no? I find the above three scream 1980s to me :)

51   Marius Ooms ~ 31 August 2006 at 01:11 PM

“A D” shares a valid point when comparing license fonts to license-free fonts. So to give credit where credit is due, here are my 5 favorite free fonts (Disclaimer: You could get fired for some of these fonts since they are not tried and true.)

Arriere Garde (Dasklem Inc)
Marcelle Script + Swashes (Zone Erogene)
Porcelain (Eduardo Recife)
Lido STF (Storm Type Foundry)
uni 05_53 (Graig Kroeger)

Of the licensed fonts I’m loving Chalet versions currently from House Industries for which you will never get fired for!

52   Ross ~ 31 August 2006 at 09:12 PM

I’ve just recently switched my obsession from helvetica neue to helvetica neue extended which helps with some of the more modern projects Im working on, without needing to go to eurostile or bank gothic. I’m also quite fond of trade gothic, news gothic, and an adobe font called “rotation.” I too feel Eduardo Recife’s fonts at misprintedtype.com are fabulous tools, as is Kroeger’s uni05_53.

As for “fonts you won’t get fired for.” Helvetica Neue, Frutiger, Adobe Garamond and Myriad are all nice, yet safe, typefaces.

53   GreenEgg ~ 01 September 2006 at 09:25 AM

Am I too much of a geek if I say Courier New?

54   Cameron Moll ~ 01 September 2006 at 12:16 PM



55   Dave Wright ~ 01 September 2006 at 01:51 PM

Being self-employed I really hope I don’t get fired for using these:


Bell Gothic



News Gothic

The Sans

56   Jeff Croft ~ 01 September 2006 at 04:20 PM

This doesn’t seem like a fair fight… the fonts you *should* be fired for using tend to be ones in the public domain while the ones most people here are suggesting are pay-for-play. Does this just support the idea that you get what you pay for? How about your 5 favorite free fonts?

It definitely supports the idea that you get what you pay for. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t many high-quality free typefaces, but it’s a fact of life. And, where there are good free fonts, they tend to mostly be display faces and not quality body text type.

Designing a typeface is one of the most tedious, meticulous, time-consuming, and painstaking endeavors a designer can possibly embark on. It’s really not that much a surprise, when you think about it, that the good ones sell for big money. It’s also not that much of a surprise that the one that are designed with the idea of being released freely don’t tend to be as high quality.

57   Shawn Blanc ~ 03 September 2006 at 02:33 PM

Thanks for the post Cameron.

I think the most dificult (to do tastefully) design work is typography. Using good fonts for the job combined with layout.

My favorites right now:


Trajan Pro

Warnock Pro



58   pv ~ 06 September 2006 at 11:28 AM

Actually, I think that I was fired for not using the “corporate font” Cheltenham (the Coporation will remain anonymous to protect the innocent) I hated it and made it known. They actually went so far as to have their own version of Chelt made for them with some minor alterations. Yuck.

Hindsight says that I might have been fired for something else as well ;)

59   Jen ~ 08 September 2006 at 02:03 PM

Of the licensed fonts I’m loving Chalet versions currently from House Industries for which you will never get fired for!

I have to second the vote for Chalet and most any other House Industries sans-serif font.

I am in total agreement about Helvetica Neue, Trade Gothic and DIN. To add a new one, Bureau Grotesque.

60   Fred K ~ 15 September 2006 at 11:37 AM

What everyone’s already said…

Ok, Bodoni is a must,
Myriad Pro,
Garamond (*not* Adobe G though, just plain G),
Sprint is a new staple,
Chopin Script,
Stone Print
and Trajan Pro.

Warnock Pro, News Gothic and Clarendon won’t get me fired either…

61   Maaike ~ 22 September 2006 at 05:07 AM

I love Ourtype’s Versa Sans. I have to stop myself from using it all the time. Fortunately, I’m self employed so I won’t be fired. :-)
Scala and Scala sans are classics as well, of course.

62   Erwin Heiser ~ 26 September 2006 at 06:57 PM

Futura Book
Gill Sans


Authentic Boredom is the platitudinous web home of Cameron Moll, freelance new media designer, author, and speaker. More…

Come in, we're hiring

Full-time and freelance job opportunities. Post a job...

...view all jobs »


A selection of fine reading, available for a limited time only: