eightbitmatt
Society44 Design

The best fonts used in the modern world, in my opinion.

I have already admitted my love for typography and tried to convert anyone that reads this website. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn’t. The fonts that I want to cover in this post, delve further into this love and look at their real-life applications and how some of them completely changed perceptions of where they were used.

The typefaces, and fonts, that I will cover today are either well designed, loved by many, hated by everyone, or used so frequently you can’t miss them.

Motorway: The font people see everyday and don’t think twice about it.

There is an amazing attention to detail that goes into The Highway Code, making sure signs, colours, and symbols are all consistent so there is a uniform way to teach people to drive safely.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the same attention to detail would be taken when laying out the signage. After all, there is a lot of information to get across on a relatively small area that goes past quite quickly.

A sample font picture of Motorway. The typeface used across all of the UK's road signs.

Full credit for this picture goes to Wikipedia

Margaret Calvert, who is also famed for creating the designs on the signs we see every day, alongside her colleague Jock Kinneir were commissioned to design the Motorway font after the original ones were considered too confusing and hard to read at high speeds.

To me, this is one of the most important, and most used, typefaces in Britain today.

Johnston: A typeface that revolutionised the London Underground.

No post about typography would be complete without this one. The font people in London see every single day, whether you commute or not. It’s likely if you live outside of London, you also see this more regularly than you think.

Originally designed by Edward Johnston, the namesake of the typeface, and Eric Gill. It was commissioned by the London Transport Authority to, like Motorway, simplify a complex network of different operators and stations, where everywhere you looked was a different typeface.

This started a trend where all the other metro lines followed suit, famously the Paris metro got a unified type, known as Parisine, not that long after the London Underground.

It shows that having a unified typeface can improve brand recognition and become an asset in its own right.

Comic Sans: The divisive yet brilliant font used by everyone, even when it shouldn’t.

An excellent way to divide a room is to talk about Comic Sans, the well-known font used in Microsoft for years and used by many in situations where it shouldn’t be. The website Comic Sans Criminal has some great examples of these.

It has become popular to hate the font because of its overuse. However, if you hate this font then you likely have no idea why it is great. Originally it was designed to help dyslexia and for that job, it works incredibly well and I believe this has become part of the Comic Sans problem.

Because Comic Sans is so good at its job, it gained popularity pretty quickly and broke out of its box. Being used by many people because it was so easy to read, because it was designed for exactly that purpose. If that doesn’t strike you as a good font, then I don’t know what will.

My final font, Trajan, is more commonly known as “The Movie Font”

Have you ever seen a poster for a movie? If you have, the chances are you’ve seen Trajan. Now common across Windows machines, it takes its name from Trajan’s Column because the font is based on inscriptions at the bottom of it.

Chosen by the movies for its boldness, the capital letters stand out more than most other fonts and it’d be a struggle to not see a poster with that font. The below video is an excellent example of the many places Trajan is used:

Like Comic Sans, Trajan is a classic case of something that worked too well and is now so overused it is becoming annoying. But it’s not as annoying as Comic Sans, if people keep seeing it then it might end up going the same way.