Gill Sans alternativesNot bad, but you can do better

I com­plain about sys­tem fonts, but I won’t say a bad word about Gill Sans—it’s over­ex­posed, but its un­con­ven­tional de­tails give it an en­dur­ing charm. Gill Sans lit the way for other sans serif fonts that com­bine geo­met­ric pre­ci­sion with looser hand-drawn fea­tures, like Ideal Sans, Bran­don Text, and Ver­lag, which to­gether prove that be­ing geo­met­ric doesn’t mean be­ing dull. (My own geo­met­ric sans serif, Con­course, also takes some cues from Gill Sans.)

by the way
  • What­ever the mer­its of Gill Sans, they do not ex­tend to Eric Gill him­self, who was in­dis­putably mon­strous. In his di­aries, he metic­u­lously doc­u­mented years of rape and sex­ual abuse of two of his daugh­ters. This ma­te­r­ial was largely white­washed un­til Fiona Mac­Carthy’s 1989 biography.

    The reck­on­ing over Gill’s legacy con­tin­ues, mostly in his na­tive Eng­land, where he is well known. (Though Gill’s pa­pers, in­clud­ing his di­aries, have been archived at UCLA since shortly af­ter his death in 1940.)

    Among Gill’s out­put, Gill Sans stands apart be­cause it ar­guably de­serves to be cred­ited to Gill’s men­tor Ed­ward John­ston, who de­signed the 1916 let­ter­ing for the Lon­don Un­der­ground that be­came the foun­da­tion of Gill Sans.

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