Our Favorite Typefaces of 2008

Reviewed 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


  1. Sye says:

    nice work everyone! thanks!

  2. Phil Nelson says:

    There goes my day. Thanks.

  3. Jongseong Park says:

    This list includes so many faces I’ve come to think of as classics already that I can’t quite believe that they were only released last year. Whenever I hear someone declare that we are now experiencing a golden age, I’m inclined to call out recency bias. But in this case, I might have to reconsider. It’s certainly an exciting period to be living in for type enthusiasts.

  4. Diego says:

    I love this annual selection. Thanks!

  5. Some of these fonts are really beautiful. I know a lot of great work went into all these so congrats to all who made the list!

  6. These are some beautiful fonts. It would be really cool to know when of these are able to be licensed for use in CSS3 as web fonts.

  7. Congratulations on the relaunch! I, too, devoured this fantastic feature after eagerly awaiting its release. It was far more than what I hoped for.

    I do have one request, however. It always irritates me to read a type review that discusses a particular character only to find that the available type specimens or images do not feature it. As I read these type reviews, the majority did include images of the particular glyphs discussed, but a number of reviews did not. I find this makes for a much less accessible and enjoyable experience, so my request is for every review to include images that illustrate each point made: If someone discusses an odd serif or beautiful ligature, I want to see it.

    Of course, the forty specimens of this collection present such a volume that this idea might be impractible, but I would hope that smaller review features could include my suggestion.

  8. Stephen Coles says:

    A valid request, Reed. Specimens for these annual reviews are difficult to plan for logistically, given the volume of reviews and multiple writers with specimens coming from multiple sources. We will be adding images to these reviews in the coming days, so come on back and have a look. That said, considering the content is something I will shoot for in the imagery of future reviews.

  9. rreibstein says:

    Thanks for the quick and exciting response, Stephen. On a positive note, I was thrilled to see Mokka getting an “ae” image when the reviewer spent a paragraph on it; I don’t think I can recall a review focusing on a particular letter pair like this, let alone having an illustration of their relationship.

  10. When writing about planting design I always caution that spatial function precedes plant material selection. This is logical, really, since plant selection is really only part of an inclusive design.

    How is typography different? Is page layout, and content, paramount? And if so, what is the relevance of ‘favorite’ typefaces?

    Is it not the case that ALL typefaces are equal in some sense? That you conceptualize your design and then you find a typeface that best moves forward your page vision?

    Do I have ‘favorite’ plants? Not really. They are simply tools, a part of a larger and surely more refined puzzle than implied by a list of favorites.

  11. spayced says:

    These are some great fonts. My favorite is Stag, which just screams New York Times. FF Trixie HD is a great ‘spy’ font, and Lakeside seems like it jumped straight out of the 50’s.

  12. Mark Rogan says:

    There goes my credit card balance!
    Really inspiring stuff. I wish I could afford to buy them all right now.

    Sometimes, I think my head is so big because it is so full of fonts.

  13. Foo says:

    40 great typefaces. And the best part is: you had to post GIF images of them because not a single one can be used in a web page.

  14. Not normally a fan of scripty fonts, but Calgary Script look really balanced. Thats going to have to be used at some point whether the client agrees or not…

    Memoir look quite sweet as well. I can see that on some nice raspberry jam

  15. Neven Udovicic says:

    Congrats to Nikola Djurek! 3 of his typefaces are in top40! + more in ‘honorable mentions’…

  16. Shiskababoo says:

    Maybe it’s just a personal preference but the past Typographic annual selections have appealed to me far more. This year there are a few stunning faces, but the rest are quite passable.

  17. rory says:

    Tasty selection of types.
    Calgary Script and Memoir are a lovely set of fonts, really flow nice. Given me some inspiration for my own fonts, thanks.

  18. A fantastic selection! We are in a golden age indeed. My personal favorites are Brioni, Marlene, and ITC Franklin.

  19. John says:

    It would be great if this set was offered as a pack

  20. Mauro says:

    Hey nice work! what that classic font used on the 2 in the 2008?

  21. Florian says:

    Mauro: That’s FF Pitu Bold (it’s mentioned at the end of the article).

  22. Gabriele says:

    Now, if only i could smell the almost heavy smell of well worn books wih those beautiful fonts, it would be perfect.

  23. Susan says:

    Great comment, Michael Spencer. Your process echoes my own. I will say that it is good to have a list like this so I can broaden my arsenal of tools on occasion. Who knows if I’ll work on a project for which I’ll need one of these, but its great for me to know they’re out there.

    As for “favorites” I think it goes more toward that thing we never really discuss in design: style. Even though we are supposedly selflessly seeking the best possible solutions to every design challenge, we can’t help but have certain go-to techniques that we know will always work in certain circumstances, thus if you look at a designers’ body of work, there are normally some similarities from project to project.

  24. Once again one of the best overviews of great typography last year.

    I think everyone here can only be glad about (almost) all foundries embracing OpenType.

  25. WebProject says:

    I love this annual selection. Thanks!

  26. A fantastic selection! We are in a golden age indeed. My personal favorites are Brioni, Marlene, and ITC Franklin.

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