Our Favorite Typefaces of 2008

Posted by Typographica on April 16, 2009

Type of 2008It’s said that when launching a new ship, it’s bad luck if the ceremonial bottle of champagne doesn’t break. Well, if the ship in question is Typographica’s long-awaited redesign, then there is no need to worry, because this list — the site’s fifth annual accounting of the best in new typeface design — represents the proverbial bottle being blasted into oblivion, showering all onlookers with a selection of amazing typefaces (cue fireworks).

Sensationalism aside, it’s significant that the ever-increasing quality in type design these days — dubbed by some as the new “golden age” of type — has caused this year’s list to supersede previous lists in many ways. For example, the new larger format of the site accommodates larger type specimens, appropriately showing more of each typeface’s beautiful features. It’s also worth noting that the list presents more selections than in years past — a testament to the fact that there are simply more quality typefaces being produced, and at a faster rate than before (many of which we were sad to leave out). Finally, in accordance with the increased number of worthy choices, more contributors have offered their opinion than ever before. From type educators to expert users of type, type critics, type historians, type technicians, and type designers themselves, a wide range of relevant perspectives are presented for consideration.

Judging by this year’s list, it is probably safe to say that OpenType technology, 13 years after its debut, has officially arrived. Nearly all type producers have fully embraced the technology and, accordingly, every one of the typefaces in this year’s list is provided in the revolutionary font format — sometimes exclusively so.

Stylistically, this year’s selections run the typographic gamut: slab serif, typewriter, blackletter, stencil, brush script, geometric sans … and some that are difficult to neatly classify. Some represent contemporary innovations in editorial style, while others look back to pre-typographic history for inspiration. With such a wide range of examples, making any generalizations about the list is tricky. What can be said, though, is that each selection has proved itself enough to be chosen as an exemplary model of what happened in the world of type design last year.

With that in mind, I would like to be the first to congratulate and thank all the designers whose work is featured, as well as Stephen Coles and Chris Hamamoto for all their hard work organizing the list and bestowing this site with the redesign it deserved.

It’s an honor to present Typographica’s Favorite Typefaces of 2008!

Nick Sherman

Typefaces used in Type of 2008 logo: FF Pitu and Dessau

Selected by
Aegir Hallmundur

Marlene

Selected by
David John Earls

Archer

Selected by
Nick Sherman

Glosa

Selected by
Adam Twardoch

Baskerville 10

Selected by
Adam Twardoch

Studio Lettering

Selected by
Christian Palino

Compendium

Selected by
Christian Palino

Stag

Selected by
Christian Palino

Carmen

Selected by
Hrant Papazian

FF Pitu

Selected by
Ellen Lupton

History

Selected by
Jean François Porchez
Zanzibar specimen

Filmotype Zanzibar

Selected by
Jean François Porchez

Vista Slab

Selected by
William Berkson

Rocky

Selected by
Jan Middendorp

Dolce & Dyna

Selected by
Caren Litherland

Brioni

Selected by
Karsten Luecke

Birra Stout

Selected by
Yves Peters

FP Head

Selected by
Chris Hamamoto

Zócalo

Selected by
Joshua Lurie-Terrell

Mary Read

Selected by
Dyana Weissman
Lakeside specimen

Lakeside

Selected by
Duncan Forbes

Hardys

Selected by
Paul Shaw

Typonine Stencil

Selected by
Gary Munch

Benton Modern Display

Selected by
Michael Surtees

Mokka

Selected by
Cameron Moll

Calgary Script

Selected by
Ivo Gabrowitsch

Expo Serif

Selected by
Claudio Piccinini

Eurostile Next

Selected by
Ricardo Cordoba

Bree

Selected by
Carolina de Bartolo

ITC Franklin

Selected by
John Butler

Arlt

Selected by
Cheshire Isaacs

Memoir

Selected by
Eben Sorkin

Marat

Selected by
John Butler

Moyenage

Selected by
Jürgen Siebert

Dessau

Selected by
John Downer

Orbe

Selected by
Mark Simonson

Modern Suite

Selected by
John Boardley

Newzald

Selected by
Dan Reynolds

Givry

Selected by
Ben Kiel
FF Trixie

FF Trixie HD

Selected by
Florian Hardwig

Comenia

Selected by
Typographica

Other Notable Font Releases of 2008

8 Comments

  1. Joe Garlick says:

    Heya,

    I really wanted to read this article but the tight line spacing, tiny point size and pointy typeface not really suitable for screen, coupled with my hangover, made my eyes hurt and made for a bad online reading experience. :) Most online reading sites have a point size of at least 16px and line height of something like 23px, (see recent redesigns like NYT, Boston Globe, Guardian) and I would argue the better online reading experience of Medium at 22px point size, line height of 33px is the most user friendly.

    J

  2. Hi Joe. We will look into developing a Hangover Mode switch for you. In the meantime, the beauty of the web is that you can enlarge any text using your browser whenever you wish.

  3. Joe Garlick says:

    Hehe. Scaling a page up using the browser zoom is broken UX though. You can’t scale up the line-height either. For a site devoted to typography you’d think it would be a priority to give the best online typographic experience. The typesetting looks nice if it was printed, not beamed into your eyes. Anyway, sorry if it seems snarky at all just some feedback, my intention is not to be an ass. :)

  4. Margaret says:

    I am especially pleased to see Cardea in the mix! Really wonderful selection overall with many of my favorites this year too.

  5. No problem, my response was slightly assy. As type gets larger there is less need for looser linespacing (especially if the line-height is specified in ems) so hopefully bumping up the size does the job for your personal preferences. In my view a lot of current web design is overcompensating with unnecessarily loose linespacing.

    The more pressing issue is that every visitor has a different reading experience and this is exacerbated by the multitude of devices with different screen sizes and densities. Typographica’s text looks great to me, but I understand it’s not everyone’s ideal and not everyone sees the same thing. Chris and I are well aware that the site is way overdue for a responsive redesign.

  6. Joe Garlick says:

    That’s an interesting point regarding loose linespacing. With a lot of the responsive redesigns hitting the web at the moment with pretty loose spacing I initially thought it was too loose too. Especially Medium, the design was fresh and well executed with great sense of space but felt oversized to me. But after spending some time absorbing articles on these sites I feel the reading is a smoother and quicker experience. When designing type for sites I often err on the side of too small, and bumping size and line spacing up feels intuitively wrong to my eye, but I feel it reads better.

    Anyway, sorry to derail your article comments thread – nice list! Some great faces I hadn’t seen before.

  7. Mike C. says:

    This is my first visit to Typographica, and I really like your approach for reviewing typefaces, type books, and design. Your content is well-informed, interesting to read, and useful for people who have a personal and professional interest in finding and using elegant typefaces.

    I must agree, however, with Mr. Garlick regarding Typographica’s tight line space and small point size. Although I think your site’s typeface is visually appealing, it really is too small to read on a computer. While I don’t suffer from a hangover, I do feel a headache approaching, and I need to grab some eye drops.

    Nonetheless, Mr. Coles is absolutely correct about the fact that too many websites have jumped aboard the Medium yacht and gone overboard with the loose linespacing. Medium’s publisher (the wealthy and former CEO of Twitter, of course) has managed to turn the use of a few rather mundane typefaces into a cultural phenomenon. But, alas, the only thing that is more boring than Medium’s typography and design is the lame content that routinely appears on the site.

    Finally, I came to Typographica via a favorable link from Daring Fireball, which is also a very informative website. When it comes to John Gruber’s choice of a typeface for his blog, however, the time has come for him to pay attention to the reviews on Typographica and select something other than the dreary Verdana at 11 points (or whatever that is) that he employs as the default.

  8. DC says:

    Always such a pleasure to read your yearly picks and commentary, Mr Coles! I’m especially pleased to see the DIN-ish French typefaces with their whimsical structure. I may have a new obsession there.

    Longtype’s site is particularly fun. My French is abysmal, so I have no right to poke fun, but it is amusing to see spellcheck fails like this:

    “If the Test Font feels adapted to the the project, it is then simple for the user to purchase the font to a subscription rate which includes substential disocunts.”

    Ahem… yes…

  9. […] “Small foundries have existed since the dawn of digital fonts, but now they are the norm.” (2014) […]

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One Comment

  1. Torbjørn Caspersen says:

    Love the article, having the true mechanics of how typographic work revealed is like having magic tricks exposed. And it’s useful to be reminded that what you experience through your eyes is not necessarily the objective truth.

    But I think it’s more correct to say that this discrepancy is caused by the brain rather than the eye. The brain takes the limited signal from the eye and creates a 180 degree full colour experience. The eye gives us a narrowly focused area in colour and a large, blurry grayscale image. So I assume e.g., the weighing of horizontal and vertical lines happens when the brain processes optical signal to experience.

Post a Comment

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!