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fonts like Helvetica

Helvetica is one of the world’s most recognizable typefaces. Originally named Neue Haas Grotesk, Helvetica was created in 1957 by designer Max Miedinger with input from Eduard Hoffman (its name was changed 4 years later when it was licensed by Linotype). Helvetica quickly rose to prominence because of its legibility and versatility. 50 years later, it’s still going strong. In 2007, Gary Hustwit released a critically-acclaimed feature-length documentary (called “Helvetica”) about its impact and influence on the world of design.

What’s hot and what’s not in the world of typography? Our Type Trends Survey Report will tell you just that. Download the report and learn the latest trends.

But familiarity often breeds contempt.

Erik Spiekermann said “People use Helvetica because it’s ubiquitous. It’s like going to McDonalds instead of thinking about food.”

Wolfgang Weingart went a step further: “Anyone who uses Helvetica knows nothing about typefaces.”

Other well-known designers were not quite as harsh.

Steff Geissbuhler called Helvetica “still the most versatile, classic, and readable of all typefaces.”

And Hamish Muir joked that “We hate to like Helvetica.”

So…if you’re a designer, you might be looking for fonts like Helvetica that aren’t so overused. Good news! Our friends at Identifont, Fontspring, Typewolf, and MyFonts recommended several similar grotesk sans-serif typefaces that we’ve assembled here to help you broaden your design pallette:

Nimbus Sans

Created by the URW++ foundry in 1995 as an alternative to Helvetica, Nimbus Sans serves as an effective Helvetica doppelgänger.

Identifont did a side-by-side comparison of the two. Have a look for yourself!

Fonts Like Helvetica: Nimbus Sans

Fonts Like Helvetica: Nimbus Sans

Pragmatica

Inspired by Helvetica, Pragmatica was designed at ParaType (ParaGraph) in 1989 by Vladimir Yefimov (later styles were developed by Olga Chaeva, Alexander Tarbeev, and Manvel Shmavonyan with participation from Dmitry Kirsanov).

Again, practically identical to Helvetica and Nimbus Sans.

Fonts Like Helvetica: Pragmatica

Fonts Like Helvetica: Pragmatica

Volkart

Designed by Jeremie Hornus, Volkart is a Latin-script typeface that was published by Indian Type Foundry in 2015.

Fonts Like Helvetica: Volkart

Fonts Like Helvetica: Volkart

Looking for some options that aren’t so close to the vest? Extensis wrote this great piece about Helvetica alternatives that feel “modern, classic, and universal” without being quite so similar.

Helvetica alternative recommendations:

Stag Sans (Commercial Type)

Open Sans (Google Fonts)

Avenir (Linotype)

Theinhardt (Optimo)

Proxima Nova (Mark Simonson)

Effra (Jonas Schudel)

Aktiv Grotesk (Bruno Maag)

Brown (Lineto)

LFT Etica (TypeTogether)

Franklin Gothic URW T (URW++)

News Gothic  (Bitstream)

So there you have it—several typefaces that are remarkably similar to Helvetica and a few that deviate a bit but still serve the same purpose.

Want to know more about which typefaces are currently the “most loved” or “most hated” by experts in the design industry? Check out our Type Trends Survey Report. You’ll see what’s hot and what’s not in the world of typography.
 
Type Trends Report Survey Results


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Believe it or not, there are quite a few Helvetica font alternatives you can use.

A few years ago, we published an article to help designers and typography enthusiasts explore alternatives to Helvetica. The article was a hit! So, we decided it would be beneficial to publish the article again for your reading enjoyment.

Love it or hate it, Helvetica remains one of the most popular, ubiquitous, and enduring fonts of all time. It’s featured in countless corporate logos, remains the go-to choice to convey a certain hipster, ironically neutral aesthetic (American Apparel comes to mind), and is even the subject of its own documentary.

Logos with Helvetica Font

Helvetica is featured in countless corporate logos

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Question: What happens when you mix a smarter-than-your-professor engineering brain with a creative’s awareness of typographical design and then toss it in the oven for fifteen minutes at 325 degrees?

Answer: Dutch food-and-type designer, Printmeneer.

Printmeneer is a business sprouting from one man’s homemade 3D printer and an inkling that cleverly designed cookie cutters would be a hit with both lovers of design and lovers of glutinous treats. Built with a naval architect’s know-how and a baker’s precision, these cookie cutters come in a myriad of funky shapes and sizes, but we, font geeks that we are, were stopped in our tracks when we saw his Garamond, Baskerville, Futura and Helvetica cookie cutter series.
Printmeneer cookie cutters - Extensis (1)

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Finding new fonts to work with is always fun for graphic designers. We recently posted two pieces on this very topic, Font Identification: How To Find The Name Of A Font In Use and How To Find Your Favorite Fonts. Though, for us there’s no real type inspiration like Fontspiration. Lucky you, we are rolling out a whole new set of pieces to tantalize your type taste buds.

Our June pieces feature type by Mendoza VergaraKilm Type FoundryHipopotam Studio, and Leo Koppelkamm. Take a gander:

Typography Inspiration: New Fontspiration Featuring Fontfabric, Ultra types & More

Foundry: Leo Koppelkamm
Font: Blu Regular & Opposite
Artist: Blue Collar Agency
Inspiration: Inspired to bring back the glory days of the cassette tape.

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An overview of tools and techniques for finding your favorite fonts—along with some insights on how to choose the right fonts for your project.

Why Typography Matters

I’ve been fortunate enough to blog about typography for Extensis for the last several years. As a published author, avid reader and designer, I’ve always loved fonts and typography, but my research for this forum in particular has only deepened my respect and appreciation for the art and craft.

helvetica-movie-poster

Poster for Helvetica documentary; Movies can make great typographic inspiration

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Follow Us On Instagram & Tag A Friend To Enter

The creativity we see on Instagram every day is an inspiration. And we’re humbled to see how fast our following has grown. To say thanks and keep the momentum going, we’re running a follow and tag contest through the month of April.

Follow us on Instagram @extensis to see what gets our creative juices flowing (and perhaps yours too!) For your chance to win a fun, designerly prize, just tag a fellow Instagrammer in a comment on the prize image. Please share with your creative comrades!

Instagram Follow & Tag Contest

Instagram gets our creative juices flowing every day

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Past phenomena that defined design. 

Looking to the past for inspiration is always a great way to jumpstart creativity. During this three-part blog series, we’re traveling down the rabbit hole of popular culture to explore the fads and events that defined the design world. Whether our society craves luxury or experimentation, typography has always reacted to what’s in fashion. Let’s pick up where we left off from our previous post.

 

Type Trends & Pop Culture: Part 2 1950s-1970s

Explore type trends in pop culture from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s

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