Typeface Review

Ideal Sans

Reviewed by Ellen Lupton on January 25, 2012

Ideal Sans orchestrates our conflicted desire for handmade humanist forms against the cloak of a crisp, sans serif world view.

It keeps its humanist urges just under the radar while playing them out to ambitious extremes: no straight lines, no perfect circles, no parallel edges. Unlike many attempts to pursue such a double life, Ideal Sans passes as a true sans while supporting its rich secret life. From a top-level view, this remarkable type family feels clean and rational enough for a train schedule or an infographic and yet, up close, reveals enough strange gentleness for a love letter.

Ellen Lupton is a writer, graphic designer, and curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Her book Thinking with Type is a basic guide to typography directed at everyone who works with words.


  1. Richard Day says:

    I travelled to your website after hearing raves about Ideal Sans from John Gruber and the Vesper app team. I was disappointed that the price is so high. This product is clearly aimed only at professionals, not home users.

    I think a narrow version would be most welcome, for use in spreadsheets, charts, videos, PowerPoints/Keynotes and anywhere you need to fit more characters into a given line. I’ve looked at Arial Narrow long enough!

  2. Thomas Rettig says:

    I think the closest font already installed on most computers is Gill Sans Condensed.

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