Undisciplinary is the personal wiki of Martin Zemlicka.


And so eventually, you understand, that the reason that there are a lot of typefaces is just because there’s a business, not a need. So, you begin to sift, sift, sift, sift, and you begin sifting to see which one are appropriate for one use or another and basically, as you know, the typefaces are divided into two categories, which are called serif, the one with the feet, and sans serif without the feet, the straight one. And between one family and the other family you begin to pick out the best, and at the end when you pick out the best, you wind up with about a half a dozen, or a little more of typefaces. And those are good, those are good for everything. Each one of those families are very large, you know, so they are of the same typeface you have are very thin or very big, they are straight or italic, which inclined, and things like that. So yes, there are only a good maybe a dozen. I’m very generous today since I think they – but there’s no more than a dozen, actually I don’t use much many more than three or four in my life. That is the thing.

Massimo Vignelli, We Use Way Too Many Fonts

Note that I don’t necessarily subscribe to the minimalist/modernist ideology presented by Vignelli, but if you, like me, are not a designer, you don’t have the knowledge and sensitivity to be able to make fine-tuned decisions about typography. I will never design anything other than personal projects, so it is easier for me to have a go to list of «good enough» instead of torturing out an eventual bad decision.

So I am sifting. Results below. Ordered in terms of least likeliness to be removed from the list after more sifting.

  1. Berthold Baskerville – Extremely clean, lovely italics. Legible.
  2. FF DIN - Instant classic. Started off using it mainly for architecture related things, now used practically everywhere.
  3. Frutiger Neue
  4. FF Meta – The Anti-Helvetica or whatever, and really damn useful.
  5. Linotype Gianotten – This used to be Bodoni, but now I have switched over to primarily using a Bodoni derivative.
  6. Adobe Garamond – Looks very good on bad paper.
  7. Linoype Univers – Not really a universal font as the name would suggest.
  8. Permian - link. Designed for the city of Perm by Ilya Ruderman.

Note that the above does not apply to internet typography, where it’s more of a question of what font is most likely installed on all systems. Hence why this is rendered in Verdana.