Top 5 typefaces of 2009

I know it’s a bit late for an end-of-year roundup, but 2009 was a superb year for type, and I’m not just talking about advances like Typekit, WOFF or the proliferation of @font-face for us web folks. There were a number of superb new typefaces designed over the course of the year, and I really wanted to share my favourites.Sample image of Adelle typeface by Type Together foundry

Adelle by Type Together

I’m a complete sucker for a slab-serif. I love how they can combine the structural strength of a sans face with the personality of a serif face, and Adelle by Type Together is no exception. When doing the branding for Function Central, I needed type which would help communicate the fun of booking an act but also feel professional and have a large enough character set to be used throughout all of their print and stationary. Adelle delivered in spades. At €389.00, it isn’t cheap, but you really do get what you pay for. Oh, and it’s available on Typekit now too!

Sample image of Effra typeface designed by Jonas Schudel

Effra by Dalton Maag

As an alternative to more commonly used neutral-feeling sans faces like Gotham and Avenir, Effra by Dalton Maag is outstanding. I was immediately struck by it’s strong geometric structure, but despite it’s no-nonsense appeal, I do think it comes off friendly as opposed to overly authoritative. I used Effra for a job at Line which is still in development.

Sample image of Sentinel typeface by H&FJ

Sentinel by Hoefler & Frere-Jones

H&FJ are hands-down my favourite type designers. The consistency in quality of the type they produce is staggering, and the breadth of character sets and attention detail is the best I’ve seen. Released back in May, Sentinel only helped further cement their reputation. Essentially, Sentinel is an update of the beautiful and timeless Clarendon, but it goes so much further. The short-ranging figures, extended language support and 12 stunning weights are topped only by what was always missing from Clarendon — italics. Sentinel was used extensively throughout Line’s Digital Podge designs.

Sample image of Geogroteaque typeface by Emtype Foundry

Geogrotesque by Emtype Foundry

Designed by Eduardo Manso, Geogrotesque is one of those typefaces I immediately fell in love with, but haven’t had the opportunity to use yet. It’s clean, clinical forms feel almost industrial, but the rounded corners prevent it from coming across as too angry. When the right project comes along, you just know this is going to carry the whole design.

Sample image of Phaeton typeface by Kevin Cornell

Phaeton by Kevin Cornell

You may already be familiar with Kevin Cornell due to the brilliant illustrations he produces for A List Apart, but did you know he released his first typeface in 2009? Phateon was inspired by “the bygone era of the carriage”, and does a fantastic job of immitating quirky 19th-century type. However, it’s the catchwords, swash variants, ligatures and particularly the vignettes which really lift this into the realm of incredible. At £35, it’s an absolute steal. Trent Walton authored yet another great post back in January finely exhibiting it’s potential.


  1. I realize I’m way behind the times here, but thanks for this post. I was wondering whether you think Sentinel would be suitable for a doctoral dissertation (assuming it’s authorized by the powers that be)?

    BTW, as a detail man, I thought you might want to correct the bits below :)

    struck by it’s strong geometric structure >>
    struck by its strong geometric structure

    despite it’s no-nonsense appeal>>
    despite its no-nonsense appeal

    exhibiting it’s potential>>
    exhibiting its potential

What were your favourite typefaces of 2009?

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