Popular Fonts

An Overview of the Origin of Typography and the Popular Fonts

Type may be seen everywhere – on street signs, periodicals, and the internet. Every typeface you see around you has been meticulously planned, and each has its own personality and mood. But have you ever wondered how the fonts we see every day came to be? Who created them, and why did they do so?

What is the distinction between a typeface and a font? Before we get started, let’s define some terms. The skill of making the letters we use every day is known as typography. It is the process of designing, developing, and realising them. A typeface is a collection or group of letters that serve as the mechanism. Every letter, dash, and semicolon will be considered a different typeface. A typeface is a design you see – the style and appearance of a particular font.

Credit: English Fonts

Origin of Typography

Typefaces have been impacted throughout history by technological improvements, cultural transformations, and general boredom with the state of typography. For generations, typefaces have been an essential element of the reading-writing culture. They have now moved into the digital era of typography and design, where fonts matter far more than they ever have. Fonts have a big impact on how your typographic content looks and feels to the audience. Thus, it is critical to carefully select the font for your printing, publishing, web design, and other jobs.

  • Guttenberg created moveable fonts in the 1400s, providing the world with a cheaper means to access the written word. All written documents were done by hand and were too expensive to acquire until this period. Guttenburg also designed the first typeface; blackletter, dark, practical, and powerful, but not very readable.
  • Nicolas Jenson designed Roman Type in 1470, inspired by writing on old Roman structures. It was significantly more readable than blackletter and immediately became popular.
  • Italics were invented by Aldus Manutius in 1501 as a technique to fit more words onto a page, saving the printer money. Italics are now used as a design component or for emphasis when writing.

Typography Timeline

  • William Caslon designed a typeface with straighter serifs and considerably more visible contrasts between thin and strong strokes in 1734. This sort of style is now referred to as ‘old style.’
  • John Baskerville designed what is now known as the Transitional type, a Roman-style type with very sharp serifs and a lot of contrast between thick and thin lines, in 1757.
  • Firmin Didot and Giambattista Bodoni design the first’modern’ Roman fonts in 1780. (Didot and Bodoni). The contrasts were more dramatic than ever before, resulting in a cool, contemporary image.
  • Egyptian, or Slab Serif, was invented by Vincent Figgins in 1815, marking the first time a typeface featured squares or boxes serifs.
  • William Caslon IV produced the first serif-free font in 1816. At the time, it was heavily condemned. However, it was the beginning of what we now call Sans Serif fonts. During this period, type expanded, and many developed to accommodate advertising.
  • The 1920s saw the birth of the world’s first full-time type designer, Frederic Goudy, who created various pioneering designs such as Copperplate Gothic, Kennerly, and Goudy Old Style.
  • Max Miedinger, a Swiss designer, invented Helvetica, the most popular typeface of our time, in 1957. It was a return to simplicity, and many other simple fonts, such as Futura, appeared around this time.

The following is a list of popular fonts that people use today!


Helvetica is undoubtedly the most well-known typeface in the world. Designed by legendary Swiss designer Max Miedinger in 1957, this iconic typeface has been used worldwide since its inception in the 1950s.  Its enormous appeal may be attributed to the fact that it appears current and simple and is as adaptable and trustworthy.


Unimpressed by contemporary ‘Caslon’ typefaces, John Baskerville began to cut his typefaces to improve his printed works in 1950. The font received an official release in Birmingham in 1757 as a transitional serif typeface. There were horizontal serifs and great contrast that appeared in the lower cases. Many of Baskerville’s competitors, including Benjamin Franklin and Giambattista Bodoni, have admired it from its inception, and many type foundries have made many variants of it, notably the fresh and elegant-looking ‘New Baskerville.’

Times New Roman
Credit: CreativePro Network


In 1929, William Lints-Smith, the manager of the London daily newspaper ‘The Times,’ learned that the much-respected typographer Stanley Morison was dissatisfied with the printing quality of his publication. Impressed by Morison’s reasoning, the newspaperman recruited Morison to redesign his paper. In 1931, Morison gave the newspaper its new typeface, Times New Roman, which replaced its predecessor, Times Old Roman. Since then, it is one of the popular fonts for many printed goods and newsprint.

In 1931, the Times of London commissioned the Times New Roman font. It had been using the font for forty years. Readers will always identify it with journalism, and publishers use it daily for books and general printing. Because of its reputation, the font is ideal for companies who want to project a robust, trustworthy image.

Akzidenz Grotesk

Akzidenz Grotesk, initially issued in 1896 in Germany by the Berthold Type Foundry, influenced a broad range of other notable typefaces, including the popular Helvetica and Frutiger. It reached new heights of popularity after being recreated in the 1950s with a larger variety of weights and varieties under the guidance of Gunter Gerhard Lange.


Gotham, which debuted in 2000, is an adaption of 20th century American Sign Maker’s ‘Gothic.’ It has grown in popularity among designers over the last 16 years due to its clean and modern appearance. Among its most well-known applications is the tale of the Obama campaign’s employment of this san serif typeface during the 2008 election.


Giambattista Bodoni developed this serif typeface in the late 18th century in the palace of Duke Ferdinand of Bourbon-Parma. He loved Bodoni’s work and permitted him to construct a private printing shop at his castle. When Morris Fuller Benton resurrected Bodoni in the 1920s for ATF with careful attention on multiple weights, it was already a highly loved typeface. For example, the film “Goodfellas” posters used this font.


Didot emerged as an alternative to Bodoni around the same era in the late 18th century, demonstrating their mutual influence. This design is a thinner version of Bodoni, although John Baskerville’s work inspired it with high contrast strokes and condensed armature.


Futura was created in the 1920s in Germany by Paul Renner. It has been the benchmark of geometric sans with its extraordinary forms for over 80 years. This contemporary typeface has influenced many other designers and is still widely used in business signs and advertising today. For example, Volkswagen has been using it as its headline typeface for many years.

Gill Sans
Credit: Blog

Gill Sans

Eric Gill developed this iconic English font for Monotype Corporation in 1928. Because Eric Gill collaborated with Edward Johnston, his quest to create the most readable sans serif typeface is heavily influenced by Johnston, who created the Johnston Font for the London Underground. The Gill Sans family, which is now widely used by many designers, has a variety of font weights and styles to pick from.


This timeless masterpiece was created in 1977 by the great Adrian Frutiger to sketch the signs for a newly constructed airport in Paris. Adrian Frutiger’s popular font, Univers, had already been introduced in 1957, but he felt it was too compact and geometric to be readable on signs. As a result, Frutiger was born, which Adrian Frutiger describes as “banal and elegant.” Adrian Frutiger also contributed to the well-known “Linotype Didot.”


Under the inspiration of Stanley Morison, the British division of Monotype Corporation designed Bembo in 1929 when the printing of the Italian Renaissance was experiencing a revival of popularity. It is essentially a revival of Francesco Griffo’s serif typeface from the late 15th century. It now provides a plethora of gorgeous weights, symbols, and numerical sets for creative purposes.


Rockwell is a well-known slab serif typeface with thick, jagged serifs and strong geometric forms.  Designed by Monotype’s in-house design staff in 1934, Rockwell is most popular as a display typeface, although it is renowned for giving beauty to any design piece. It is an Egyptian-style slab serif typeface that dates back to 1910. Its designer intended it for use with displays, so it’s a good option for banners or posters that need to express a time-honoured image. It’s huge and bold; therefore, it’s popular for signs. It’s also super adaptable enough to appear in regular text applications for well-known companies.

Franklin Gothic

Franklin Gothic, designed by Morris Fuller Benton in America in 1903, was redesigned in 1980, and an updated version with a wide range of weights was released in 1991. This typeface from the realism sans serif family has more characters than any other, and its boldness is popular among designers. Although its popularity suffered for a brief period in the 1930s due to the entrance of European competitors like Futura, it quickly recovered popularity and is currently chosen by many for various design works.


Jan Tschichold, a well-known Swiss graphic designer and type designer, designed Sabon in 1966 using Monotype and Linotype machines. Tschichold has made significant contributions to current graphic design and provided many fine fonts to the typographic world. Still, this old-style serif stands out from the rest of his work and is extensively used. Sabon’s distinctness may appear in its semi-sharp edges and lovely cursive features.

Georgia Font
Credit: Blog


Matthew Carter created Georgia in 1993 and Tom Rickner for the Microsoft Font Collection. It was designed as a friendly typeface for readability and simplicity. In addition, it was envisioned for low-resolution screens for clarity with its companion Verdana, both of which are now extremely popular.


Verdana is another typeface from Microsoft. Microsoft requested a more readable alternative to Helvetica for computer screens in 1996, which led to Verdana featuring a wider set-width and more character spacing than Helvetica. These characteristics make it more readable than Helvetica for the fine print.


Claude Garamond created this typeface in the 15th century during the stormy days of the French Renaissance. Claude was an apprentice to reputed printer and publisher Antoine Augereau. Under his supervision, Claude created the cicero font for well-known printer Robert Estienne and received much praise. It was reprinted under the name Garamond by Jean Jannon, a Swiss printer, in 1620. Garamond is one of the most attractive typefaces available. It is well known as a book printing typeface. Therefore, it is appropriate to employ to portray a feeling of classical taste and elegance. Adobe Garamond, created by Robert Slimbach in 1989, is the most widely used digital form today.

News Gothic

News Gothic is another famous typeface produced in the early nineteenth century as an American san serif for ATF by Morris Fuller Benton. Many people still choose this tidy and clean-looking typeface with sharp edges for newspapers, printing, and other reasons.


Myriad is a unique typeface designed and created by Adobe in 1992, particularly for the Adobe font library. Many corporations and institutions, including Apple, have adopted it as their corporate typeface.

Mrs Eaves

Licko was dissatisfied with the digital revivals of classic types in this new period of “total freedom.” Therefore, she designed Mrs Eaves in 1996, a modern rendition of the renowned John Baskerville’s typeface titled Sarah Eaves after his housekeeper (who subsequently became Baskerville’s wife).


When Robert Slimbach worked on Adobe Garamond, he gathered plenty of prints and literature on Renaissance typefaces from European museums. He scribbed digital possibilities of the 80s and usable ideas from the materials gathered to create Minion with a distinct personality.

Calibri Font
Credit: Free Fonts


Calibri has more personality than Helvetica. The letterforms are rounder and more inventive, while the set-width is narrower. Microsoft created the Calibri don’t and is presently the default font of Microsoft Office. Its contemporary and “business casual” appearance makes it an excellent choice for most business papers.


Arial is so close to Helvetica that rumours spread that IBM created it only to avoid paying royalties on our most popular typeface. We of a certain age may recall it as part of the seminal Windows 3.1 operating system. Like Helvetica, your customers may use a general-purpose typeface for signs, company forms, or fine print. However, it’s lighter and less formal than Helvetica, giving it more personality and individuality.


Microsoft commissioned Cambria in 2004 as one of the ClearType fonts included with Windows Vista. Despite being developed lately, it recalls serif typefaces from the late 1800s. This transitional serif font is more condensed than Times New Roman and, like Helvetica, has a solid appearance that makes it simple to read in small text. Cambria was designed specifically for body text by Microsoft, and font specialists use it rigorously in corporate printing works.


Today, with the internet, we have access to a large array of old and modern fonts to browse and utilise. All of these types provide us with a plethora of alternatives and aesthetics for our designs today, and we are no longer confined to just one or two typefaces as we were a few hundred years ago.

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