Most popular fonts in 2014

10) Caslon

Apparently the old typesetter’s saying of “When in doubt, use Caslon” applies to the web as well. The various revivals of William Caslon’s work from the 18th century continue to be popular in the digital world of the 21st century.

9) Circular

This geometric sans from Lineto really took off in 2014 thanks to its prominent use in a few big rebrandings from companies like Airbnb and Mint. I think it brings a touch of freshness to the geometric sans genre without deviating too much into unfamiliar territory. Laurenz Brunner’s other well-known typeface, Akkurat, has been a favorite of designers for years and I’m sure Circular will be as well.

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8) Gotham

In 2014, Hoefler & Co’s Cloud.typography service finally started to see more widespread usage. Although their flagship typeface Gotham was one of the most used web fonts of the year, their other offerings such as Sentinel, Whitney and Archer have been quite popular as well.

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7) GT Walsheim

GT Walsheim, from Swiss foundry Grilli Type, is similar to other geometric sans such asCircular, but isn’t afraid to bring on the quirks. The horizontally protruding bar on the Gand the curvy tail on the y give it a distinctive look that adds a bit of warmth and friendliness to a geometric typeface that could otherwise feel cold and sterile.

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6) Franklin Gothic

Franklin Gothic has a long history as a classic editorial typeface in print, so I’m glad to see it used more for editorial purposes on the web, like on Time Magazine’s site. It’s also a noted favorite font of “the Godfather of the web”, Jeffrey Zeldman, so it’s fitting that it makes the list of the most popular web fonts of the year.

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5) Proxima Nova

On last year’s top ten list, I predicted that Proxima Nova would fall out of style for 2014. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This typeface continues to be a staple on the web. I think due to its ubiquity it’s starting to feel almost anonymous, like Helvetica, where it can be used for any type of design and fit right in.

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4) Apercu

Apercu was #2 on last year’s list and I predicted it would start to feel a little played out in 2014 due to it being used absolutely everywhere. Of course “played out” is entirely subjective, but I feel like this prediction rings true. It could easily have reached #1 on this list, however, I personally started to not feature sites using it as they all seemed to be carbon copies of each other. If you use Apercu, will users of your site think the font is overused? Probably not, so don’t let its popularity stop you from using it. But to someone who looks at type all day long it no longer feels fresh and exciting.


3) Avenir

Adrian Frutiger considered Avenir his best work and this typeface has other admirers as well – I published a survey in April of last year where I asked 41 influential designers to list their three favorite typefaces and Avenir was mentioned the most. It doesn’t feel “trendy” like some other typefaces on this list can tend to feel; it instead has a timeless quality that I believe will make it popular for years to come.



2) Futura

Speaking of timeless typefaces, Futura has seen widespread usage since it was released in 1927 and it continues to be popular on the web. Although it has a classic look, it’s not the most readable of typefaces due to its low x-height. It may be worth checking out some alternatives to Futura if you are in need of something more flexible.


1) Brandon Grotesque

It’s no surprise to anyone who follows type that Brandon Grotesque made it to #1 on this list. Last year I complained that too many sites were using it where the typeface felt a little out of place for their brand. Media Temple, a web hosting company, switched to Brandon Grotesque earlier this year for all of their branding. To me it feels odd seeing a tech company branding themselves with a typeface that has roots in architectural lettering of the 1920s. The typeface used to have a certain “feel” to it, to me at least, but that feeling is starting to become lost due to it being used everywhere, for every conceivable type of brand. But of course these kinds of feelings are subjective and typography and culture are always shifting and changing – typefaces will always have different connotations to different people.

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Top 10 Most Popular Web Fonts of 2013

10) Proxima Nova
Proxima Nova may well be the most commonly used web font on the internet. I’m placing it at number 10 because it feels like it may be on the way out for 2014. It seems like every new startup sets its headers and navigation in uppercase Proxima Nova bold with slight letterspacing. It’s a popular font for good reason and the fact that it is popular shouldn’t necessarily stop you from using it – if it makes sense for your project then go for it. However, it might be worth looking at other fonts to use for your next design in 2014 if you want something more unique.
9) Gotham
H&FJ were late to the game with their web fonts service. Gotham has been insanely popular for years in the offline world but just recently has been made available as a web font. I think part of the reason Proxima Nova became so popular is because of its similarities to Gotham. Gotham was used throughout Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and since then can be found absolutely everywhere. Proxima Nova was available early on as a web font when Gotham wasn’t, so its growth online took off while Gotham was left behind. Fortunately all the time H&FJ spent working on their web font service was worth it – their fonts have been redesigned for the screen and render beautifully. In 2014, expect to see way more H&FJ fonts used on the web like Sentinel, Archer and Whitney.
8) Roboto
Roboto is a grotesque sans-serif that feels like something in-between Helvetica and DIN. It is a free font that is available in six weights with matching italics – it acts as an excellent alternative to other free sans-serifs, such as Montserrat, that lack italics. Roboto renders crisply on the screen at small sizes, so it works great for setting readable body copy.

7) Inconsolata
Monospaced fonts like Inconsolata continue to be popular with designers. Although originally designed for on-screen use and specifically for programming applications, monospaced fonts can be found everywhere. They can give a design a very sparse and “undesigned” feel. I see monospaced fonts used a lot on designer’s portfolio sites. Inconsolata is very well-designed for a monospaced font and looks great in the right context. It doesn’t include italics so it isn’t very well suited for body copy – a nice alternative to Inconsolata is Anonymous Pro (designed by Mark Simonson of Proxima Nova fame) which contains full italics.

6) Avenir
Avenir has been a personal favorite font of mine for years. I remember using it all the time in my design comps in the mid 2000’s – back when we had to slice up graphics to use nice fonts on the web. It seems like Avenir is emerging as a popular alternative to the ubiquitous Proxima Nova. Avenir has a very organic and welcoming feel for a geometric sans-serif and I’m sure its popularity on the web will continue to grow in 2014.
5) Futura
Futura has been around since 1927 so it feels a little weird including it on a list of the trendiest fonts. It’s a classic font that was much loved by Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson. Futura is clearly not going anywhere and will continue to be a popluar typeface on the web.
4) Montserrat
Montserrat is a free font which no doubt is part of the reason for its popularity. I always see it recommended as a “free alternative to Gotham”. It may have a similar feeling as Gotham but I think it really stands as its own typeface. It has a distinctive uppercase G and J which lends it its own unique character. Without italics it’s not the best choice for body copy, but it makes an excellent font for headlines.
3) Brandon Grotesque
Brandon Grotesque is a geometric sans with a “1920’s New York” feel to it. It works wonderfully in the right context, however I personally feel I see a lot of sites using it where it doesn’t really seem to fit the design. Uppercase white Brandon Grotesque set on top of a darkened blurry photo background has to be one of the most common design treatments I’ve seen in 2013.
2) Apercu
Apercu is yet another geometric sans-serif but with a much more distinctive twist to it. It has quirky characteristics that make it instantly recognizable yet it still retains a classic feel. On Typewolf, I know I’m guilty of featuring any clean design set with Apercu, as something about this typeface just seems so refreshing. Will it become played out in 2014? Yeah probably, but for now I’m really digging Apercu.
1) Open Sans
Open Sans is the new Arial. For a completely free and open-source font, it contains a surprising set of weights with matching italics making it an extremely versatile font. It works well for headlines as well as body copy and it renders excellently on the screen and at small sizes. The web has completely embraced Open Sans as it seems to be the default font for every recent open-source project. The newly-released Zurb Foundation 5 switched to Open Sans from Helvetica as the default font for its framework. Google is using it on many of their redesigned pages. I was always partial to Adobe’s similarily open-sourced font, Source Sans Pro, but that font hasn’t quite taken off like Open Sans has. I fully expect Open Sans to be as common on the web as Arial over the next few years.