The 5 Best Fonts

imessageI’ve been a little busy lately. I have an upcoming wedding in 5 days, and while I assumed I could regularly write blog posts, I am ultimately bad at time management.

There are stresses in one’s life, and then there is wedding stresses. So when I failed to deliver a blog post last Friday, one would assume that my tens of readers would notice and alert me. But no, my twin brother, who knows I have an upcoming wedding, sent me the text message shown at left.

Thanks Jeffery! I didn’t realize I failed to write a blog post last week. Thank you for alerting me to the fact that I shouldn’t have anything else occupying my time – you know, like a WEDDING! 

I assumed I would probably be too busy to write before my wedding, and even knowing this I still couldn’t write ahead of time and schedule them to post in the future. But if anyone knows what procrastination is, it is probably Jeffery – who has known about my wedding for 15 months, but just booked his plane ticket last week, and I am still unsure if he has sleeping arrangements.|1| 

Wedding stresses are mostly self-imposed, or in most cases – imposed by mothers. Thus, other than stressing over vendor coordination and organizing the week’s events, I have been endlessly making signs. Specifically, chalkboard signs.|2|

There are the signs pointing to our venue. The signs with the drink list. The signs with the dessert options. The signs for the guest book. The signs with our sappy “love story”. Signs. Signs. Signs.  

Future Mother-in-law|3| thinks that people won’t know what to do if there isn’t a sign giving them explicit instructions. Furthermore, I am fairly certain I have made signs depicting how to hold a fork, and which orifice on the face to insert drinking water – otherwise, people will die of dehydration.

Before the signs were made, Future Mother-in-law got a stencil to help with the lettering. “Uh-oh.” My (soon) wife said. “You should’ve asked Brady first. He’s kind of a font snob.”

For the record – I am not a font snob. I just have a refined font palette. It’s like wine connoisseurs – they are willing to spend a few more dollars for a better tasting wine. Almaden may have been a fine wine to drink in your early twenties, but now that you have a refined, sophisticated palette, you strictly purchase Bota Box.

Future Mother-in-law was going to purchase the Helvetica stencil. But Helvetica looked “too cold.” Therefore, she got the “hand-written stencil font.” But the point of stencils is to have your letters NOT look handwritten. Kerning is the horizontal spacing between letters; I don’t know what vertical kerning is called, but lowercase j’s should not be seven inches taller than Capital M’s.

Ultimately, Future Mother-in-law was right; writing that looks like a 1st-grader’s may be illegible, but it never “looks cold” – and it is always a pleasure to read jacked-up fonts.

So, for the rest of the signs, she asked what my favorite font is. That is a tough question. The aforementioned Jeffery got me amazing 12mm Corbusier font stencils, from Peter Miller books, for my our birthday. Those would’ve been perfect, but Future Mother-in-law was thinking more along the lines of 1200mm size text. Ultimately, I said we should use Avenir – mostly, because we could just use our normal handwriting. However, all of the sans-serif fonts I named were deemed “stark and oppressive” – something a communist regime might use to create bland uniformity.

I don’t even recall what font I’ve been using, but I’ve been dreaming about fonts, and chalkboard markers, every night.

Therefore, in a semi-hierarchical order, here are my 5 favorite fonts: 

5. univers –
This font is more common in Europe, but the man who has probably influenced every architect, Frank Ching, uses univers font in his books. If Frank Ching likes it, then I like it too.|4|

4. Futura & Helvetica –
I could not narrow down this list to only five fonts. I use these two fonts for this website; Futura for titles and Helvetica for text. Most people want a unified look for their website on all platforms, but I didn’t want to pay for fonts – thus everyone’s viewing experience may be different for this website.|5| My title fonts are: Futura, Roboto, and sans-serif. My text fonts are: Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial, and sans-serif. If you own a Mac or IPad, you will see Futura and Helvetica. If you think Comic Sans|6| is a fine font, then you probably see Roboto and Window’s crappy replication of Helvetica (Arial). But a few lucky graphic designers will be rewarded with Helvetica Neue – I don’t even have Helvetica Neue installed on my computer, so I hope it looks good.|7|
3. Avenir –
Avenir is the new Futura. The all-caps thin letters look amazing in titles.
2. Franklin Book –
Especially in bold, I still love this font.
1. Neutraface –
This should be every architect’s de-facto font. An incredible font produced by House Industries (Christian Schwartz) mimicking the architect Richard Neutra’s handwriting. I don’t care if some people think it’s already over-used; only when everybody’s House Numbers are Neutraface Numbers – will it then begin to be bland. Hell, Helvetica still looks nice, and is abundantly overused.

Note to All Architects: It is pronounced Noi-tra-face (you know, like the architect) NOT New-tra-face.




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1 Other than in a park. – And to be fair, he was going to drive, but recently switched jobs and needed to purchase a plane ticket to accommodate his limited vacation days.
2 They now make “chalkboard markers.” Yes, these markers can draw on chalkboards, but they are not like chalk, and do not erase. Perhaps, “white markers” did not test as well in the market research group.
3 I don’t think Future Mother-in-law reads this blog. Or at least I hope she doesn’t. While she knows I have a blog, she doesn’t understand why it would take so much time to “post a picture and write: CHECK OUT THIS UGLY HOUSE.” Dammit. She makes a good point.
4 Thanks to Steve Juroszek who has influenced me, and gets his name on the cover of Frank’s books – but rarely gets the recognition. (Steve is the one who told me this fun font fact, probably because he typed all the words.)
5 In addition, if you haven’t figured out Google Chrome and use an outdated Internet Explorer 7 browser, you won’t even see my SVG title graphic.
6 Does Comic Sans really need to have the Sans part? Was there a Comic predecessor, but nobody took the squiggly handwritten font, with poor kerning, seriously enough – so they thought, “You know, let’s add the Sans part so people will think it’s a real font.” On the other hand, is there an alternate Comic Serif version?
7 I kind of like the idea that the more you appreciate fonts, the better viewing experience you have on this website. Otherwise, I was going to make my fonts all Verdana. Fun Font Fact: Verdana is on both Windows and Mac computers by default.

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