A breed of no-nonsense typefaces, called “Gothics” in the United States, have been serving as heavy hitters in financial services, business, and newspaper sectors since the late 19th Century. Gothic typefaces – not to be confused with Blackletter typefaces, which look “gothic” in a scary, medieval sort of way – are American sans serifs. Their forms are designed to solve multiple design problems. Below are some of our favorite Gothics from the Linotype collection. See which one is right for you!
The “Godfather:” Morris Fuller Benton (1872–1948)
Morris Fuller Benton of the American Typefounders Company wasn’t responsible for all of the typefaces we classify as American Gothics, but it sometimes seems as if he drew the lion’s share. During the first decade of the 20th Century, Benton designed a trio of Gothics: Lightline Gothic™, News Gothic™, and Franklin Gothic™. Still popular today, these three typefaces are ultra legible, and have been used in newspapers the world over for decades (not for body copy, per se, but for the little tiny “instructions” one finds there and about throughout the pages). Lightline Gothic was the thinnest and the lightest of the bunch, and Franklin Gothic was the boldest and the heaviest, while News Gothic fits somewhere in between.
|News Gothic||Lightline Gothic and Franklin Gothic|
These types went on to inspire a number of more contemporary favorites, including ITC Franklin Gothic™, News Gothic™ No. 2™, and Linotype Gothic™. Both ITC Franklin Gothic and News Gothic No. 2 add a number of additional weights to what he had expected under the original umbrellas, builing them into universal families that may be used to set virtually any text in all sorts of designs. Linotype Gothic is another new interpretation of News Gothic, this time optimized for corporate communication needs and office environments. Linotype Gothic is a great alternative to virtually any sans serif intended for setting body copy. Plus, the “true” Italics are completely new and 21st century, adding new level of visual diversity. Take Linotype Gothic for a spin in your magazine today!
|News Gothic No. 2||Linotype Gothic|
Morris Sans™, based on Bank Gothic – Morris Fuller Benton designed that classic, too –, is seen below combined with Copperplate Gothic. Copperplate Gothic comes from the pen of Frederic W. Goudy, another of the 20th Century’s most prolific desigerns. These two types are a dynamic duo. Although they not originally designed to be mixed and matched, they work well together. A seeming stroke of genius, these wide-load, all cap typefaces are deceptively similar and complimentary: where one is round, the other is rectilinear. Morris Sans’s stroke endings are surgically sharp, while Copperplate Gothic’s sport “baby serifs” (you hardly notice them, but they aid legibility in small sizes).
Believe it or not, the pre-digital, metal type antecedents of both of these typefaces were originally intended for use exclusively in small sizes! Where past typesetters used them for business cards and in the fine print of contracts, for instance, we tend to exclusively use them big, i.e., for logos or signage.
While Copperplate Gothic only features uppercase letters and small caps in its fonts, Morris Sans offers an improvement over many early 20th Century display faces in that it includes true lowercase letters as well! The old small caps one remembers from Bank Gothic are still available as an OpenType feature.
|Morris Sans and Copperplate Gothic|
Handel Gothic, by Ronald Trogram, is a rounded typeface that looks more towards the future than the past. Born at the beginning of the digital age, this typeface has been adopted by media companies in several different markets. Its unique style helps separate your identity from its competitors, while still keeping on foot squarely on the ground.
Letter Gothic™ was engineered during the 1960s as a typewriter face. Its slightly narrower and highly legible nature made it an appropriate alternative for correspondence. Letter Gothic’s characters are monospaced; they all share the same common width. This feature has allowed Letter Gothic to survive past the typewriter age. Today, monospaced characters play an important role in graph, table, and chart design. Letter Gothic has gone on to inspire the designs of typefaces that are not necessarily in the “Gothic” category at all, and which aren’t American either, such as ITC Officina™ Sans and ITC Officina™ Serif.
Railroad Gothic™ harkens back to the big, dark letters seen on 19th Century American railway signage. Like many of the wooden display types popular in the “wild west,” Railroad Gothic’s letterforms include some proportional eccentricities that help add to its overall charm. Railroad Gothic is still a great choice for really big large environmental lettering. If you like Railroad Gothic, check out yet another Morris Fuller Benton typeface in our portfolio: Alternate Gothic.
|Railroad Gothic||Alternate Gothic|
Trade Gothic™ is one of the most popular sans serif families of the moment. Although its design was born during the 1940s, it has managed to remain current almost 60 years later; you could call it the “Mick Jagger” of typefaces! The secret behind Trade Gothic’s success has been the hidden variety of its basic elements: some of its most basic letterforms aren’t built according to the “rules.” But together, the combination of these letterforms is what makes this typeface work. Trade Gothic is a big family, with a variety of weights and widths, which increases its effectiveness as a workhorse Gothic.