Need hints for good fonts? Here's 14 typographers with their favorite fonts

14 typographers with their favorite fonts featured image

We all have a go-to font that we love to use in our designs. But which fonts do the experts faithfully turn to? We’ve found out their 26 favorite fonts and break them down below. Read on to hear Debbie Millman, Mark Simonson, and other greats share their top picks for fonts. Who knows, you may just find some new font choices you’d never heard of that will inspire your next design.

01. Billy So: Colfax

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Process Type Foundry

This first font comes to us from Billy So, the UX Designer at Kit and Ace. The brand has a clean and minimalist website which speaks to a Swiss design influence versus their Canadian roots.

That’s why it’s no surprise that when asked about why he loved this font, So said, “I really like the geometric shapes. Colfax is great sans-serif font that has the oval shapes that makes it a bit more friendly.”

Geometric and friendly could be two words that also sum up the design and type on the Kit and Ace website.

His parting advice to aspiring UX designers and typographers? “If you are designing typeface for interface, legibility is paramount. The typeface needs to have enough contrast so that it will work from tiny screen to large screen.”

02. Jeffrey Zeldman: Adelle Sans, Abril Titling Condensed, and Franklin Gothic

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Justin Seeley
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Type Together

It should come as no surprise that these three fonts are the favorites of Jeffrey Zeldman. As someone who is an expert on web design and whose website is devoted to “web design news and information since 1995,” these three editorial fonts are a perfect fit.

Franklin Gothic is well-known as one of the most popular sans serif types, while Adelle Sans is the sans-serif counterpart to the Adelle type. With cleaner lines, Adelle Sans is better suited for web and editorial work. Another oldie but goodie is Abril Titling Condensed.

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According to MyFonts, this type system was created for the “very specific requirement from the editorial design community [for] a low contrast typeface for headlines.” In an interview for TypeWolf, Zeldman said, “I’m a diehard Franklin fan, particularly for Franklin Gothic Condensed Bold.”

He also adores Adelle Sans for readability and Abril Titling Condensed for titles. Between these three fonts, designers of editorial pieces may need to look no further for their next project.

03. Samira Khoshnood: Georgia (Bold Italic)

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Samira Khoshnood, Senior Product Designer at Evernote, revealed to the Invision App blog that this font was her absolute favorite.

Typedia describes it as exuding a “sense of friendliness” even at small sizes, which creates a “feeling of intimacy many would argue has been eroded from Times New Roman through overuse.”

Designers who need a font to be clear regardless of its size should keep this one on the short list.

04. Veerle Pieters: Pluto and Neutraface

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Ryan Abney

A quick glance at Veerle Pieters website reveals her extensive knowledge of typography, but with a friendly tone and a colorful design. Her favorite fonts, told to Typewolf, mimic that same combination of friendly and hardworking.

Pluto can be seen as being informal and friendly on the surface. But, looks can be deceiving. Based on Pluto’s “straight and upright architecture,” it is ideal for longer copy as well.

Originally created for headlines, Neutraface has a similar combination between form and a wide range of usability. Though its strong architectural background may fool some into thinking it’s only a headline font, Neutraface is actually able to be read at a variety of sizes.

Both of these fonts are perfect for designers who want a type that can handle the leg work.

05. Debbie Millman: Andale Mono and Peignot

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Debbie Millman was gracious enough to share her favorite fonts to Typewolf as well. Both of her favorites hearken back to an earlier day of web typefaces that were very structured in style. Andale Mono was originally designed for strong legibility for programming.

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The Xara Xone

Seeing as Peignot was designed almost 60 years earlier, its origin was not related to programming in the slightest. This mixed upper and lower case font instead brings to mind an earlier time in type, and has become known for its Parisian leanings.

Designers wanting to evoke some nostalgia with their fonts should use either of these for their work.

06. Rob Weychert: Minion

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Stretching even further back in time for its influence, is the Minion font. Both Debbie Millman and Rob Weychert — another esteemed member of the type world — shared their affinity with this Renaissance influenced type with Typewolf.  

Though not released until the 1990s, Minion attempts to conjure up classical typefaces with its style. This font is so influential, that The Elements of Typographic Style, a guidebook and classic for all typographers, uses it for its body copy.

If you want a font that will stand the test of time, then Minion should be your go-to choice.

07. Laura Kalbag: Brandon Text, Supria Sans, and Trade Gothic

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Typecast by Monotype
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Type Ed

In her interview with the typographer’s dream website, Typewolf, Laura Kalbag reveals three fonts she would take with her if forced to pick. “My current favourite typefaces are HVD’s Brandon Text and Supria Sans. I could probably survive for a long time using nothing but HVD Fonts.”

The reason that these fonts are her favorites is that both are easily readable. They diverge from there though, with Brandon Text reminding her of Art Deco design while Supria Sans “has loads of character and quirkiness whilst staying legible.”

Even when she wants a more utilitarian font, Kalbag likes to have some personality incorporated into it. For that, her go to is Linotype’s Trade Gothic.

08. Janna Hagan: Larsseit

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My Fonts

Designers and typographers wanting a clean and readable type should side with Janna Hagan on her favorite font: Larsseit. The reason this font sits at the top of her list is because it’s “modern, fresh and . . . extremely versatile in different contexts.”

Versatility can be a game changer depending on your project, so designers wanting such flexibility should definitely borrow from Hagan.

Her parting advice is one that reminds many of us why we fell in love with design to begin with. She tells aspiring typographers to “look for inspiration from other mediums and disciplines. Even though I’m in design, I’m constantly inspired by photography and art.”

09. Scarlet Duba: Futura

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Scarlet Duba goes back to when she first started on her design journey when choosing this font as her favorite. Futura was her “first favorite typeface . . . because it is based on the purest geometric forms like the circle.”

This purity of style might strike a chord with many designers, and using Futura is a strong choice when you want that element in your design. Duba also provides quality advice to designers and typographers who need a little inspiration.

“Use the classics A LOT. And, remember it’s about how you use the typeface not necessarily which one. Some are bold statements, but some allow the center stage to the art/photo/illustration or the body of text you are working with.”

Her parting quote summed up her favorite font and her advice with the words of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”

10. Aimee Gauthier: Bryant

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Process Type Foundry

Aimee Gauthier was one of the designers who struggled to pick their favorite font. She called it a “very tough question to ask a designer,” and said it was similar to having her choose her favorite child or favorite food.

Gauthier explained that “[a] designer’s collection of fonts is like a toolbox, with each tool (or font) having a specific purpose for a specific job or outcome.”

“Some fonts are hard-working and can be used for multiple purposes, while some fonts are very specialized, meant to be used to convey a specific look and feel, or provide visual personality and embellishment to its application.”

In the end, Gauthier was able to to pick Bryant, which she returns to often because it “has a warm, youthful, approachable tone to it.

“It’s simple enough to be used as body copy, but also has enough personality to carry it’s own when used more expressively, or in headline copy. I love the range of weights it comes with, and for whatever reason, find myself gravitating back to it over and over.

“A lot of my design work and personal aesthetic is playful yet simple/clean, often a nod to vintage, and Bryant suits that aesthetic wonderfully.”

Gauthier says aspiring designers need to just jump all in, easier said than done. But “you need to shed the fear of perfectionism and just let yourself PLAY, make mistakes, make a bunch of ugly things first and then learn from those mistakes to make something great.”

It also doesn’t hurt to heavily research the history of your field, read, observe cultures past and present, and “be aware of the aesthetic and cultural trends of the past that have shaped the cultural and aesthetic trends of today. Be an explorer of the world!”

11. Mahédine Yahia: Akzidenz Grotesk

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Posters by Jon Marzette

Mahédine Yahia, digs deep into the history of type with her favorite font. She loves Akzidenz Grotesk because it was “the first font without serif font-enlargement used.” She also appreciates the impact the font has had in inspiring other popular fonts Helvetica or Arial.

Like Gauthier, Yahia wholeheartedly believes that rising designers must learn the history of type to appreciate it. She encourages all to learn about the designer behind the fonts, because “there’s a story there.” And designers are all about sharing stories at their very core.

12. Mark Simonson: Bookmania, Mostra Nuova, Lakeside, and Proxima Nova

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Bookmania by Mak Simonson
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Monstra Nuova by Mark Simonson

Mark Simonson, founder of his eponymous studio, doesn’t have a favorite font per se, as he gets to create fonts for a living.

“I have many favorite fonts. It would be impossible to narrow it down to one. I really like fonts, which is a big reason why I became a type designer. . . . [W]hen you ask about a ‘favorite font’ I immediately think ‘for what?’”

Since narrowing down which fonts he loves is difficult, we asked him to share which recent font creations he loved instead. Bookmania was created to blend together the “sturdy elegance of the original Bookman Oldstyle (1901) with the swashy exuberance of the Bookmans of the 1960s.”

While Mostra Nuova takes us to the 1930s and Art Deco period in Italy with its geometric shapes. Simonson was careful to make a few adjustments to Mostra Nuova though to keep it from being “too severely mechanical.”

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Lakeside by Mark Simonson
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Proxima Nova by Mark Simonson

Lakeside looks exactly like what it is named for and brings to mind summer trips to the lake. Simonson was inspired by “hand-lettered titles in Otto Preminger’s classic 1944 film noir movie ‘Laura’” when creating this brush script.

Despite these three fonts being majestic for different reasons, Simonson is best known for creating Proxima Nova. This wildly popular font is “a hybrid that combines modern proportions with a geometric appearance.” The geometry makes the type exceptionally readable while the modern influence makes it unique.

All of these works of Simonson vary in style and structure. Yet, all of them also relate to his advice to aspiring typographers. “[L]earn the basics of spacing, contrast, hierarchy, and composition. Once you get the basics down, the rest is just details.”

13. Sophie Elinor Brown: Mr. Eaves, Mrs. Eaves, and Archer

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Frank James Day
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Move over Kim and Kanye! The most scandalous and beloved couple of multiple designers are the fonts Mr. and Mrs. Eaves. While many typographers expressed their affinity for this couple, Sophie Elinor Brown provided the best response as to why she loved them.

“For a long time I was infatuated with Zuzana Licko’s ‘Mrs Eaves’ (and her sans significant other, ‘Mr Eaves’). ‘Mrs Eaves’ is full of curves that’ll make your knees weak, and the timeless character set has some truly beautiful ligatures.”

What makes this font even better in Brown’s eyes is the fact that its backstory is, as she described it, “salacious.” “For anyone who thought type design was stuffy, it’s well worth reading up on John Baskerville’s escapades.”

Though she claims that her favorite fonts are constantly changing and depend on the project, Brown also had an equally eloquent description of another well-known font.

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Archer was a recent purchase that Brown fell head over heels for as she explored its weights and styles in long form layouts. “The hairline in particular is divine; it’s effortlessly sexy, and so thin it’s barely there.”

Her advice to aspiring designers and typographers is both equal parts humble and brilliant.

“I still very much consider myself to be ‘aspiring’ when it comes to typography, so I’m not especially qualified to dish out advice. My general approach to it, though, is to always have typographic side-projects on the boil.”

“The best way to learn is by doing, and having a passion project can be really motivating. It also gives you a safe space to create – free from briefs and deadlines. I think it’s crucial to have an appreciation for language, too.”

“Typography might fall under the umbrella of design, but it’s inextricably linked to language. The pieces of lettering that really cut through for me are the ones that are clever, cheeky or shocking; design that has style but also substance.”

With parting words like that, we would say Brown is on her way to becoming an all-star in the field.

14. Peter Bil’ak: Uni Grotesk and Lava

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Peter Bil’ak, who founded Typotheque, responds with what many type designers answered with when asked what their favorite font was: the one he is currently working on.

But two fonts he recently completed are thankfully still close enough to his heart to leave an imprint. “Both fonts come with a strong personality, but are very versatile and can be used for small and large text.”

Bil’ak explains, “I suppose that’s because they have been developed to address a specific task. Uni Grotesk has been used on highway signs, Lava for the body text of a design magazine.”

Equal parts practical and attractive, these fonts should be in your arsenal for a variety of projects.

Ironically, his advice to aspiring typographers and designers is to not listen to the advice of others. Instead he recommends doing “rigorous research about type before deciding on your choice of fonts.”

He says it’s important to “[t]est typefaces in a specific context of your work, in the real size, real medium, real language, and not in a faux Latin on screen when you’re going to print something.”

Despite his belief that aspiring designers shouldn’t listen to advice, Bil’ak doles out some actionable and brilliant wisdom.

Over to you

The experts have spoken and these 26 fonts are the ones they reach for when they create their projects. So follow their words of wisdom and put these typefaces to work for you in your next project.

If you feel like there are some glaring omissions, be sure to let us know in the comments.

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