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Our Favorite Typefaces of 2013

Stephen Coles on March 11, 2014

favorite fonts of 2013This year marks another step in the typographic diversi­fi­cation we observed in our previous annual. The global spread of independent font makers and the variety of new ideas in type design continues unabated.

As evidence of that diversity, the 54 typefaces selected from 2013 were created by designers from at least 21 countries, including:

  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Lebanon
  • Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

This new phase of globalization and democratization of the font market began in earnest about a decade ago, propelled by newly accessible digital tools, online commerce, and post-graduate education in type design. It is a sea change. For centuries, places like Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Lebanon, and New Zealand were vastly under­repre­sent­ed in a type design community that was dominated by western Europe and North America. (And that speaks only of Latin-based type. The burg­eon­ing production of fonts in other scripts tells another fascinating story.)

The diversity of the contributors to our annual is also invig­orating. This year’s writers are almost as international as the typefaces they cover. More importantly, they represent a variety of perspectives from both sides of font making and using. Type designers, print and web designers, educators, writers, historians — we can all learn from the manifold ways that people from such divergent backgrounds perceive a typeface.

In Review

Now in its eighth edition, “Our Favorite Typefaces” continues to present a good overview of the most interesting new fonts on the market. It is, however, by no means comprehensive. The list of other notable releases hints at how many other typefaces deserve attention, and custom type commissioned by clients for proprie­tary use is often overlooked. (This growing segment of the trade deserves its own feature.) As a reminder, this annual is not a compe­tition in which submitted entries are awarded by an official jury. (That format has its own drawbacks, but I think it’s still a valid one.) Instead, I invite people whose opinion I respect to write about a release from the past year that excited them. This means that the reviews are not necessarily rigorous critiques — although many contributors do offer a fairly in-depth analysis. Their opinions are mainly positive because that’s the point of the call.

This caveat acknowledges the fact that, while the “Favorites” feature will always have its own kind of value, there is also a very real need for true type reviews — in the proper sense of the term, in which type (both good and bad) is tested and appraised. With the help of some able cohorts, I intend to address that deficit soon via a new venture. Subscribe, follow, stay tuned.

“Our Favorite Typefaces of 2013” was produced with generous assistance from Chris Hamamoto, Caren Litherland, Tamye Riggs, Laura Serra, and Tânia Raposo. Huge thanks also go to the contributing writers, and to the type designers and foundries who provided samples and imagery.

This feature coincides with a Typographica font palette refresh, including Sutro Deluxe by Jim Parkinson for the nameplate, Nocturno Display by Nikola Djurek for headlines and pullquotes, and Fern (unreleased) by David Jonathan Ross of Font Bureau for text. We continue to use the durable JAF Bernini Sans by Tim Ahrens for all the small stuff. The “Type of 2013” graphic features FF Quixo (and a color I can only describe as “Sherman Peachorange”, nabbed from a little site called Fonts In Use).


  1. Hrant says:

    I thought there would be fewer selections this year! So glad that’s not the case — there’s a lot to celebrate, and learn from.

    Most of all though I’m happy you waited for the year to actually finish, thus including the December babies in the family.

  2. Hrant, there actually were fewer selections this year — but only six fewer.

  3. What a year in Type Design. I’m a little disheartened that Tribunal didn’t make the main list though. It’s a wonderfully functional workhorse with a very unique story!

  4. Hrant says:

    So last year there were at most 1.5 libre fonts among the 50-something favorites. How many are there this year? (BTW this happens to be pertinent to a conference talk proposal I’m working on…)

  5. There are two libre families among the selections: Fira Sans and Clear Sans. Also Salomé, which is not libre but the Regular is free with a tweet or Facebook post.

  6. Paul Shaw says:

    Just a reminder that the list is one of favorite typefaces not of the best typefaces of the past year. For instance I chose Carlyle Quaint only because it was so unusual. I would have been just as content to have chosen several others, including some that are on Stephen’s honorable mention list, which are better in the sense that they are far more useful.

  7. […] Have you seen Typographica’s favorite typefaces of 2013? We have a new FontList with all the fonts chosen that are available at FontShop! You can also […]

  8. Charbel says:

    Lebanese Typographers cater to the whole Arab world. A small country with much to offer to such a niche.

  9. J says:

    Favorite typefaces of 2014??

  10. Coming in February or March, as usual.

  11. […] “This new phase of globalization and democratization of the font market began in earnest about a decade ago.” (2013) […]

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2013 notable fonts asterisk

Other Notable Font Releases of 2013


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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