Typeface Review

Adelle Sans

Reviewed by Nadine Chahine on March 13, 2013

Adelle Sans is a feel-good typeface. It’s not your typical description, to say that this typeface is a happy one, but it really is. Although typefaces are usually indicative of personalities or traits (and we often talk of the friendly or the formal, masculine or feminine), Adelle Sans manages to capture one of the most desired of human emotions: cheerfulness.

It pulls you in with the promise of good tidings to come, and captures your attention with its simplicity of form and elegance of movement. This a typeface meant for reading and for communication. It’s a delicate balance that works wonderfully well in this design.

Adelle Sans is uncomplicated and friendly, and its applications are varied. This is a typeface that is well crafted and very nicely thought out. Especially interesting are the obliques in all of the available weights. It’s a rare occurrence to find a typeface family where the obliques/italics offer such a tempting alternative to the upright, but this is one such occasion. Adelle Sans is not an upright design that got lumped with an oblique version; it’s a family of both upright and oblique variants that are equally compelling in their own right.

Dr. Nadine Chahine is a Lebanese type designer and principal at ArabicType Ltd. She has an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading, UK, and a PhD from Leiden University, the Netherlands. She has won numerous awards, including two Awards for Excellence in Type Design from the Type Directors Club in New York in 2008 and 2011. Her typefaces include: Frutiger Arabic, Neue Helvetica Arabic, Univers Next Arabic, Palatino Arabic, and Koufiya. Chahine’s work has been featured in the 5th edition of Megg’s History of Graphic Design, and in 2012 she was selected by Fast Company as one of its 100 Most Creative People in Business. In 2016, her work was showcased in the 4th edition of First Choice, which highlights the work of the 250 top global designers. Nadine was selected by Creative Review to their Creative Leaders 50 in 2017.


  1. Hrant says:

    Nice review, Nadine. You can indeed see the cheerfulness in the heart glyph for example!

    Needless to say, Adelle Sans will need an Arabic extension… :-)

  2. It’s interesting that you find Adelle friendly and cheerful. Incidentally, I didn’t like Adelle (Sans) at first because I felt it was too whimsical. Seeing it in use here on Typographica has changed my mind. There’s something about the not-quite-superellipse/not-quite-round and sometimes-strict/sometimes-loose shapes that really works. It has flavour, but it is still serious.

    Perhaps the impression is different because I only see the light weight? The heavier minuscle a’s, for example, look ‘sloppy’ to my eyes. Its left side is weak, while the right side is strong. This is a purely subjective opinion. I see the same thing in ‘s’ but I think it works there because the spine is so strict, almost horizontal, and somehow manages to keep the less strict terminals in cheque. More balanced, perhaps?

    IMO, the heart shape sums it all up — strict, with a tiny dash of flair.

    Btw: Isn’t that black ‘g’ a tad bit too heavy in the cellar?

  3. I would also object that the small caps looks too small for an editorial-geared typeface like this. I suspect they will attract attention instead of blending in at text sizes.

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