While the following fonts may not always be the most suitable for presentation design, we thought it would be useful to take a close look at the most used fonts of all time, whether for signage, presentation, or publishing.
Helvetica: Helvetica remains arguably the most recognised and popular font available since its release in the 1950s. It’s mostly commonly used for signage and business forms, such as invoices and receipts. It’s very easy to read since its large x-height makes it look bigger than it is. Helvetic is a strong choice when customers need to read very fine print as it looks modern, simple, versatile, and trustworthy. However, a common criticism of Helvetica is that it lacks character, which makes it a useful font for leaving a neutral impression while ensuring legibility.
Calibri: Another staple in the sans serif family, Calibri offers a bit more character than Helvetic while remaining tight in width and rounded in design. This font was designed by Microsoft and is the default for all Microsoft Office programs. This modern, ‘business casual’ font makes it a strong choice for business documents and presentations where legibility and simplicity are most critical.
Baskerville: Officially released in 1757, Baskerville was designed as a transitional serif typeface, positioned between older-style Caslon typefaces and modern style Bodoni and Didot. Baskerville offers a lower case with near-horizontal serifs and great contrast. The popularity of this font has since led to numerous versions of Baskerville that refresh its look and feel, such as ‘New Baskerville’, which makes the font look even more modern and elegant.
Times: In 1929, the manager of a London newspaper ‘The Times’, William Lints-Smith heard that the much-respected typographer Stanley Morison was unimpressed by the printing quality of his newspaper. Heeding to Morison’s criticisms, Lints-Smith hired him to redesign the paper, which led to the development of its new typeface, Times New Roman, which replaced its predecessor, Times Old Roman in 1931. Since then, Times New Roman has become the best-known serif font available – a staple in journalism and publishing for decades. Times New Roman remains a classic for conveying authority and prestige, particularly when used in text-heavy media, such as books and magazines.
Gotham: One of the few popular fonts released during the 21st century, Gotham is an adaptation of the American Sign Maker’s ‘Gothic’ font, which was popular typeface for signage throughout the previous century. Gotham saw a surge in popularity as the sans-serif font used for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. The font’s clean and modern lines make it a common choice, particularly for digital display.
Futura: Since its development in the 1920s, Futura has been seen as the benchmark for geometric sans fonts. In capturing the Bauhaus design essence, Futura uses geometric design cues – particularly circles – to capture ultramodernity. Volkswagen have been using Futura for years as its marketing headline font as it hints at future yet seen and demands visual attention.
Garamond: While first conceived in the 1500s, Garamond was created in 17th century France by Claude Garamond. Since then, it has remained an elegant serif choice, particularly for publishing body text. This one is really considered a classic and regarded as an old-serif due to its sense of refinement and allusions to old leatherbound books no longer created due to digitalisation, environmental costs, and the general loss of craftmanship.
Arial: Commissioned by IBM in 1982, this sans serif font bears such striking similarity to Helvetica that some believe the company only designed it to avoid paying royalties. Arial contains more humanist feel than many of its predecessors using more soft and fuller curves is than in other industrial style sans-serif fonts. Arial is an extremely versatile family of typefaces which can words for documents, presentations, magazines, newspapers, and marketing. Admittedly, it does look less formal have more personality than plain, old Helvetica.
Cambria: Microsoft released Cambria in 2004 as of one of the ClearType fonts for Windows Vista. This font is designed for digital display and works like a small-size font in that it’s more condensed than Times New Roman and legible like Helvetica. While it’s easy to read in small type, Cambria also expands nicely into large sizes, making it good for body text in print and digital.
Rockwell: Rockwell is a classic slab-serif (or Egyptian-style) font that traces back to 1910 but was first released in 1934. This font is distinguished by a serif at the apex of the uppercase A, while the lowercase a has two storeys. Because of its mono-weighted stroke and bold look, Rockwell is used primarily for display or at small sizes rather than body text. It’s a strong and impactful font choice, particularly for signage.
Gill Sans: Produced by Monotype Corporation and designed by Eric Gill in 1928, Gills Sans is heavily influenced by Johnston Font (the signage font for London Underground). This quintessentially English font is still commonly used by British Transport, but now designers have a variety of font weight and varietals to select from, making it a great choice for displaying a no-nonsense typeface that is bold but legible.
Frutiger: This timeless classic was created by Swiss designer, Adrian Frutiger, in 1977 for the signage of newly built Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. Frutiger had already released his typeface, Univers, in 1957 but found it too compact and geometric to be read on signs. Frutiger is still used across signs in various European countries due to its legibility. Other Frutiger font variations have since been release and Adrian Frutiger went on to design Linotype Didot font in 1991.
Verdana: Like Frutiger, Verdana is considered a humanist sans-serif font as it’s easy to read at all sizes on digital display. Verdana was commission and released by Microsoft font as an alternative to Helvetica that was more legible on low-resolution computer screens. With its larger set-width and character spacing compared to Helvetica, Verdana is a better choice for fine print whether on print or digital.