Type around town: 18 fonts proven in print

Alex Bigman

The amount of new fonts created on a daily basis is staggering. This is awesome — don’t get us wrong — but if we read one more roundup with a title like “50 New Sans Serifs that Every Designer Needs to Know About,” we think we’re going to short-circuit. Seeing typefaces at this quantity, abstracted from any examples of real world use, is noisy. Before long you can’t tell your serifs from your ascenders and you’ve lost sight of the things that really matter, like a typeface’s branding potential or its legibility across different sizes and media.

So, we took a different approach that we think will prove refreshing: looking beyond the screen and finding fonts in the real world — in the logos, ads and signage that we come across in everyday life in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. These 18 fonts have proven themselves to be effective in real world practice and we’re willing to bet they’ll make good additions to your design toolboxes as well!

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We found all of the fonts in this roundup in actual use around 99designs’ office and the Bay Area. The black dots mark their exact locations, just to give a general sense of their distribution.

Oh, and here’s a little challenge for you type sleuths. In some of these cases (we’ll let you know which), we weren’t able to find the exact font used, so we cited the closest match we could find. If you can find the right ones, though, please share!

URW Bodoni Extra Bold

Artemide, an SF lighting boutique, uses URW Bodoni Extra Bold in its logo.

Alternate Gothic No.2

Roku, a popular brand of streaming players, uses Alternate Gothic No.2 in this ad campaign.

Berling Roman

For the wall text accompanying its exhibition Girl with a Pearl Earring, San Francisco’s De Young Museum uses a distinctive serif and a very legible sans serif. We couldn’t find an exact match for the serif, but it’s possible the designers modified Berling Roman. The sans serif looks like Gibson Light.

Matrix II Script Bold

Tacolicious, a local taqueria, uses Matrix II Script Bold for its logo, as seen on this delivery truck.

Camingo Dos Pro

Mobile service provider Verizon uses a sleek, distinctive font in this obnoxious ad campaign catering to SF’s Financial District and SoMa neighborhoods. We’re not sure we’ve found the exact font (that Q is mighty distinctive), but it may be a modification of Camingo Dos Pro.

BAM

The Berkeley Art Museum uses Franklin Gothic ITC Medium for its signage advertising a Rudolf De Crignis exhibition.

Toronto Subway Regular

Italian restaurant Perbacco uses a sans serif similar to Toronto Subway Regular for the type in its logo.

Arnold Boecklin No.2 D

The signage for the One Jackson Place building and courtyard uses an Art Nouveau-inspired typeface called Arnold Boecklin No.2 D.

Roberta Regular

Inside the courtyard, the Jackson Place Cafe uses a complementary typeface in its logo. It may be a completely original typeface, as we cannot find it but it is certainly in the same family as Roberta Regular.

Garage Gothic Bold

For this ad campaign, Bank of the West uses a font with nice, narrow capitals: Garage Gothic Bold.

Gothic Unique Bold

An advertising poster for the exhibition Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance at the De Young. It uses two cool and unusual sans serifs, Gothic Unique Bold for the title, Geogrotesque Light for the subtitle.

Tzaristane Bold Oblique

Barbacco, an SF wine bar and restaurant, uses Tzaristane Bold Oblique in its logo.

Castellar MT

Vinilux uses Castellar MT and something along the lines of Arnold Samuels Light for its logo type, as seen on this truck (perhaps it was on its way to the wine bar below our office…)

Giza SevenFive

The law firm Emison Hullverson, LLP, uses a powerful slab serif, possibly Giza SevenFive, for its logo. It looks good in both 2 and 3 dimensions.

OCR B SB Regular

For the wall text accompanying Hung Liu: Offerings, the Mills College Art Museum uses a monospaced typeface, OCR B SB Regular.

Well, we’re at least 10 for 18 in terms of accuracy here. Think you can do better in matching these examples to their actual typefaces? Prove it in the comments!

The author

Alex Bigman
Alex Bigman

Alex contributes from New York City on topics ranging from branding and typography to the history of design.

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