Saturday, August 29, 2009

Century or Gill Sans

Century Schoolbook is a Transitional classification serif typeface designed by Morris Fuller Benton in 1919 for the American Type Founders. It is classified as old style, but the Schoolbook variation has elements similar to the Didone classification. Century Schoolbook is based on the earlier Century Expanded typefaces begun by Linn Boyd Benton (Morris Fuller Benton's father) as a text and display face for The Century Magazine in 1890.
Century Schoolbook is familiar to many in North America as being the typeface many first learned to read with. Morris Fuller Benton utilized research that showed young readers more quickly identified letterforms with contrasting weight, but with the lighter strokes maintaining presence. Tests also showed the importance of maintaining counter-form (the white space around the black letterform) in recognizing the face at smaller sizes. In designing Century Schoolbook, Morris Fuller Benton increased the x-height, the stroke width, and overall letterspacing. The original ATF Century Schoolbook was designed without italics. Later revivals by Linotype and the International Typeface Corporation (ITC) added italics. Use of the typeface remains strong, for periodicals, textbooks, and literature. An infant variety also exists, which features single-story versions of the letters A and G. Although this version is not for sale to the general public, it can be seen in the Spot books by Eric Hill.

To purchase and download this typeface, variations, and inspirations that build this typeface you can also go to

Quick Info:
Designer: Morris Fuller Benton
Year: 1901
Copyright: Monotype Classic Fonts
Publisher: Monotype
Cool Fact: The Supreme Court of the United States requires that briefs be typeset in Century family type.


What do you use Gill Sans for?

Gill Sans lends itself for many types of jobs. It has clean lines but lacks the symmetry and geometry of Futura or Univers. This makes it a bit friendlier and more artistic looking. Many people seem to dislike the heavier weights of this font. Humanist 521, Granby, Bliss and Agenda are a few of the alternatives to Gill Sans.

The history of Gill Sans

The British  sculptor, graphic artist and type designer Eric Gill created this font in a search to design the ultimate legible sans-serif text face. Edward Johnston’s sans serif lettering for the London Underground was his prime source of inspiration. Is it any surprise that Gill Sans was first used for railway signage at its release in 1928? The typeface was designed to function as a text face as well and has been a popular choice for decades. Originally released as a single weight, many variants were added over the years, extending the versatility of the typeface. Gill Sans became popular when in 1929 Cecil Dandridge commissioned Eric Gill to produce Gill Sans to be used on the London and North Eastern Railway or a unique typeface for all the LNER's posters and publicity material.


Gill Sans is occasionally referred to as ‘the Helvetica of England.’
You may already have Gill Sans on your system since it has been included as a system font in Mac OS X as well as Adobe CS and some of Microsoft’s products.

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