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Review Feature

Our Favorite Typefaces of 2006

Typographica on July 11, 2007

Best Fonts of 2006By my best estimation, at least 1,800 new commercial typefaces were released in 2006 alone. This count does not include freebies, custom and proprietary commissions, or even individual weights. It is a rough tally of the number of new font families released by the major resellers and exclusive foundries last year. If we take this fresh meat and trim the inevitable 90% that is unusable fat, we are still left with hundreds of quality new typefaces, most of which will never get ink from a design magazine or a blurb on a blog. With so much stuff hitting the market, the need for a font filter has never been greater.

The sheer volume of new fonts is one reason why this year’s list is so long and so tardy. We also cover more ground this time around, looking back another six months into the half of 2005 that last year’s “Part One” review didn’t cover.

The result is a set of 23 font releases that inspired our group of type designers and type users to pen their praises, and in many cases, to pony up some dough.

Honorary Nomination: Nonfont of 2006
Mayberry Steve Matteson
I think you need to lose your type design licence if you produce a font with the same “metrics” as an existing font. (Or we can just nominate you for the CompuGraphic Memorial Trophy for Derivative Type.) Sort of like PostScript Arial’s matching the widths of PostScript Helvetica, Mayberry claims to “emulate the technical behavior of Tiresias”.

Aficionados will know that Tiresias Screenfont — the variant referred to here — is the failed typeface used in the United Kingdom for captioning (not “subtitling”, as they errantly call it). This extravagantly expensive font — up to $15K for a worldwide licence — still doesn’t have an italic and is based on junk science. Seriously, they tested a screenfont for captioning by showing printouts to grannies through a closed-circuit monitor. (And they changed the font halfway through the test.)

So: a clone of Tiresias, or “the technical behavior” of it, is bad enough. But it’s been done! Monotype has its own Tiresias clone, Tioga. Mayberry is a clone of a clone. And, from a design standpoint, they’d all be B-minus assignments in the second year at Reading.

Sorry. Deaf people deserve better than this. — Joe Clark


  1. Sarah Nelson says:

    “With so much stuff hitting the market, the need for a font filter has never been greater.”

    All too true! Thank you for compiling another great list.

  2. nick shinn says:

    Congrats on getting this show back on the road Stephen, and an impressive roster of fonts reviewed. Always a few surprises, and comments that make one look twice.

  3. Joe Clark says:

    For the record, I write in fluent Canadian English, which does not place periods and commas outside quotation marks. Somebody did that for me, presumably for “improvement.”

    At least you left “licence” (n.) intact.

  4. Adam says:

    Great list, but these are all “Typefaces”, not “Fonts”!

  5. Good to see some designs by upcoming designers.

  6. You’ve done it again! Wonderful collection and comments. It is great to see new treasures that I’ve missed.

    I find the Deutsche Bahn serif font fascinating; pity we don’t get to see it here in the US.

  7. zydrius says:

    Very nice collection of great fonts and reviews!

    You can buy Deutsche Bahn, I think.

  8. Adam_Y says:

    I’m a big fan of Fabiol, in print rather than on-screen. As it happens, today is my last day working as a typesetter, and it feels like I’m leaving just it is starting to get interesting again.

  9. John Butler says:

    Welcome back, Typographica! I missed you!

  10. Dav, formlos says:

    Woohoo, ‘THE List’ (and Typographica itself, of course) is back. ;) My favourites out of these: ‘Rumba’ + ‘Young Finesse’.

  11. On Joe Clark’s negative comments about Mayberry.

    It seems that Steve Matteson was involved also in the development of Arial and of Segoe, fonts which have come in for a similar kind of criticism. I don’t know what to make of all this, but it makes me wonder what is going on.

  12. Eben Sorkin says:

    Where did the ‘2006’ treatment come from? It feels very mid century modern – and in a good way.

  13. Stephen says:

    Thanks, Eben. I figured we needed some color for the opening graphic and it was the first idea that came to mind. I am certainly mid-mod obsessed. Most of the credit goes to Berlow, though. It’s his Titling Gothic.

  14. Dennis Hill says:

    Rumba makes me smile. Odile also looks like a fun font to work with.

  15. Oh, I want them all. Great work by the designers and I found the reviews to be interesting and insightful.


  16. Eben – props to Vignelli.

  17. Hrant says:

    Vignelli and type design don’t mix.

  18. Type design is one thing. It’s his type illustration in that poster that I admire.

  19. Nick says:

    Very very nice collection and reviews.

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Comments at Typographica are moderated and copyedited, just like a “Letter to the Editor” in a newspaper. Abusive or off-topic comments will not be published. Compliments are appreciated, but will not be published unless they add to the conversation. Thank you!

Selected by Carl Crossgrove
Guardian Egyptian and Sans type specimen


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Titling Gothic type specimen

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Estilo type specimen


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Exhange type specimen


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Darka type specimen


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Milo type specimen

FF Milo

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Fabiol type specimen


Selected by Jan Middendorp
Rumba type specimen


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PTL Skopex type specimen

PTL Skopex

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Omnes type specimen


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Margie Script type specimen

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Eudald type specimen

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Tiptoe type specimen

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Palatino Sans type specimen

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Freight Big and Display type specimen

Freight Big and Display

Selected by Peter Bruhn
Young Finesse type specimen

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Esta type specimen


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Luxury type specimen


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Amalia type specimen


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Deutsche Bahn type specimen

Deutsche Bahn


Typographica is a review of typefaces and type books, with occasional commentary on fonts and typographic design. Edited by Stephen Coles with Caren Litherland and designed by Chris Hamamoto. Founded in 2002 by Joshua Lurie-Terrell. Relaunched in 2009 by Coles and Hamamoto.

Set in Bureau Grot by Font Bureau, Nocturno Display by Nikola Djurek, Fern (unreleased) by David Jonathan Ross, and JAF Bernini Sans by Tim Ahrens.

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