Essay Typeface Projection

5 Classic Presentation Fonts

Every computer comes with a set of fonts pre-installed as standard. What you probably didn’t know is that some of those fonts totally rock for presentations!

I’ve listed my ‘classic’ go to fonts that I primarily use in my presentation designs. I use these fonts when custom fonts can’t be considered for compatibility reasons using presentation templates over multiple computers. What, pray tell, are these classic fonts I refer to then?

Without further hesitation here are my 5 classic presentation fonts that will look good in any presentation, if you know how to use them correctly!

1. Helvetica

Quick, somebody get the Helvetica police! Sure, you’ve probably heard it recommended time and time again, but frankly I don’t care. Helvetica rocks this world. It is a flexible, diverse and robust typeface.

The beauty of Helvetica is in its neutrality. It is a font that can blend to any style, almost like that a chameleon in the font world.

If I could summarise Helvetica in one sentence, it would be: “Clarity with complete simplicity.”

Helvetica was designed and created by Max Miedinger & Eduard Hoffmann in the late 1950s. Interestingly, Helvetica was originally named Die Neue Haas Grotesk (I’m sure that name went down well with the cool kids).

Helvetica has been extremely popular typeface with corporations. America Apparel, for example, uses it for their logo. Here are 40 Excellent Logos that use Helvetica. 

In presentations, Helvetica is powerful and can add real impact, but it doesn’t take over the limelight. It is also really easy to read at different sizes and weights.

Some people may confuse Arial with Helvetica due to their number of similarities. To the non-typography connoisseur’s eye, it is hard to tell the difference between the two. I found an excellent comparison of the two typefaces for you to compare. Personally, I’m also a big fan of Arial, but it didn’t quite make this top 5 list. (Plus, I would have been shot down by a few of my designer buddies of mine had I selected Arial above others on this list.)

2. Garamond


Not a typeface many would automatically go for but a great font all the same. I like Garamond for its more mature qualities.

It is a typeface that always remains professional with quite a clean, sharp appearance.

Garamond has a rich history behind it and one of the reasons I love it! Claude Garamond, a French publisher from Paris, created the font and was one of leading type designers of his time.

The original typeface created for a French King called Francis I in the 1540’s.

There have been many later versions of Garamond created, including numerous variations (trying to improve on the original version) such as a custom variant of the ITC Garamond typeface, called AppleGaramond.

3. Futura

Futura is a Sans-serif typeface (meaning it has no serifs), designed between 1924 and 1926 by typeface designer Paul Renner. Created during the Bauhaus period, commissioned by the Bauer type foundry.

A fun fact for you: the Apollo 11 astronauts left a commemorative plaque on the moon in 1969. The text set in Futura.

Futura is another font that is great for readability and one of the reasons I’m fond of using it in presentations. It is an elegant font that has a real personality.

If you’re using it in presentations is it especially good for headlines. There is an excellent article on Futura’s amazing past to see how the typeface has changed in design over the years.

4. Gill Sans

I’ve always had a soft spot for Gill Sans. It used to be my go to font during my school years. I used it in my essays, projects, or just for general homework headings and then let Times Roman do the grunt body text.

Another Sans Serif font, Gill Sans presents a friendly and warm look without being too overstated. Some have even been known to refer to Gill Sans as ‘the British Helvetica’.

Gill Sans created by British graphic artist and sculptor Eric Gill. Initially, it had been inspired by the typeface Johnston, by Edward Johnston. The Johnston typeface had previously been used for Transport for London on the London Underground in 1913.  Eric Gill had previously been Johnston’s apprentice at the time.

Gill Sans was popularised during its use as the typeface for all LNER’s (London and North Eastern Railway) posters and publicity material in the late 1920s.

Gill Sans – Beyond classic!

The BBC logo still uses the typeface to this day, and it is still a very modern font with many designers around the world.

5. Rockwell 

Last but not least, one of my most favourite fonts of all time is Rockwell. The typeface was designed at Monotype foundry’s in-house design studio in 1934.

Rockwell is a font that is bold and vigorous, and it will give your presentation a distinct, confident look about it.

Rockwell primary use should be for display because of itsmono-weighted stroke.

I’m a big fan of using Rockwell for the major points and headline text. It can add impact to your design if used right. I’d suggest further reading this article on exploring the use of Rockwell.

There you have it, five classic presentation fonts that every single person who has ever designed an Apple Keynote or Microsoft PowerPoint™ presentation should have in their arsenal. Go out and enjoy them.

The Week in Type

Welcome to this week’s the week in type. Thanks to all those who commented on David’s great On diacritics article. Upon seeing Greg Meadows’ photos from the boneyard in last week‘s the week in type, Matthew sent me some of his own:

Note: I’ve started using ThickBox for some of the images. Where you see [+] in the top-left corner, just click the image to see a larger version.

I’m off to find a boneyard.

A useful grid designer for the Web. First, select columns and gutters,

then select typography,

then export. Nice.

Tobias Battenberg took a projector and Akzidenz Grotesk out onto the streets, and came back with these fantastic images.

These and many others will soon be available as desktop & iPhone wallpapers. Many thanks to Tobias. Inspired by Tobias (and Batman), I plan to take my own projector out, and experiment. I’ll post the results here.

Nice spread from Non-Format:

Font of the week

Fidel Black by Chilean Luciano Vergara, and available through Latinotype. Inspirada en el compañero de Cuba:

Fidel Black PDF specimen. There’s also an iphone wallpaper designed by Luciano, and set in Fidel Black, here. Also used to set this article’s masthead.

Free fonts

Not only is it free to download, but it’s distributed under the SIL Open Font License. You can even download the FontLab file.

Featured faces

Capricorn, a compact, modern sans from Jens Gehlhaar:

Hannah is a playful type that would work really well for certain poster designs:

New fonts

From Jeremy Dooley of Insigne, Kasuga Brush:

Type links

50 Useful Design Tools For Beautiful Web Typography
Josef Müller-Brockmann Flickr Group
TypeTalk: Top Fonts of 2008
The abbreviated typographer
InDesign Inspiration — Nick Sherman
The Journal of Urban Typography
Evaluating fonts: kerning
26 Years, 85 Notebooks
Design Observer: Archives — typography
FontShuffle gets 50 new fonts
iPhone emoticons
Font Lorry
Polish diactrics in signage
Open Baskerville
How not to space headlines
World-Ready Composer in Adobe CS4
jQuery sIFR plugin
An interview with Mark Simonson:

Kinescope is my favourite Simonson script. And Proxima Nova is a pretty special sans (comprising 42 fonts).

Great article on the first Arabic script printing press, by Pascal Zoghbi. Al Zakher founded the press in 1734, and it continued operating until 1899:

It’s not metal, it’s not wood; it’s wool. Meet Thread Red from handmadefont:

Thomas Silkjær contacted me about a project he’s working on: an 840-page book about Bible design & production. Hope to get my hands on a copy when it’s published:


Typographic inspiration can be found in numerous places. I found this beautiful engraving from master engraver Sam Alfano:

It’s not typography, but it could certainly inspire some beautifully crafted typographic ornaments. And remember that all images on Sam Alfano’s site are copyrighted; so, look, marvel, and be inspired to create designs of your own. Be sure to check out Sam’s other site, the


Paula Scher looks back at a life in design:

Recommended reading

I mentioned this book a couple of weeks ago. If you’re looking for a tome to inspire, then this is for you. I often take this one to bed with me (not sure whether that says more about me or the book). Here’s a spread from Typography 29 to whet your appetites:

300 pages, hard bound.


SVA Summer Program in Italy 2009 (feel free to buy me a ticket).

The (Mostly) True Story of Helvetica & the New York City Subway (Thursday, 5 February, 2009) with typographer and calligrapher, Paul Shaw.

And if you haven’t read Paul Shaw’s article on the subject, then head on over to AIGA.

TDC Salon: What I See (Thursday, 19 February, 2009), featuring Kevin Smith, former partner of Giampietro+Smith.

The TDC Salons are held at the Type Directors Club Center at 6 pm every third Thursday (unless otherwise noted ). 347 West 36th Street, Suite 603, New York, NY 10018.

Name that typeface

I still receive quite a number of emails asking me to identify typefaces. Would love to help (and sometimes I do), but owing to the volume of emails I receive, I just can’t reply to them all. So, even you need to ID a typeface, then click through to the wonderful Typophile Type ID Board:

Also, take a look at my post on identifying type — lots of additional resources.

Type blogs RSS

I’ve added a several more type-related blogs to the OPML file. You can download here, and then import into your feed reader. If you think I’ve missed some good ones, then let me know.

One you really must subscribe to is Thomas Phinney’s new blog, Phinney on fonts:

It’s included in the above OPML file.

Win a book

To celebrate … (I don’t know what), I’m going to give away a type book. This week, I will choose, at random, one of my followers on Twitter. The chosen one gets one of these books: The elements of typographic style, The complete manual of typography, Thinking with type, or The secret history of letters. The winner gets to choose one.

And finally …

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be adding new features to ILT, including a comprehensive recommended reading section. Thanks for subscribing, reading, and commenting. And thanks to everyone who sent in links. Perhaps the easiest way to send me links is via twitter; and, if you use the hash tag #ilovetype then it’s even easier for me to track them. Have a great weekend.

Arabicfree fontsMark SimonsonTDCtypography news

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