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The Best of Fonts In Use in 2013

We mark our third anniversary by honoring some of
our favorite typography from the year that was.

Contributed by Stephen Coles on Feb 27th, 2014. Artwork published in .

The Fonts In Use Collection
By the Numbers








of Foundries

Fonts In Use just turned three. That seems young, but it’s something like a teenager in internet years, right? Regardless, the more significant milestone came in mid-2012 when we launched the Collection, opening the archive to public submissions. Since then, we’ve experienced a growth spurt: the site now documents and discusses* over 3,200 designs using at least one of over 1,700 typeface families from hundreds of foundries. (*I use the present tense because Fonts In Use is a living archive — one in which entries of any age are easily accessible, cross-referenced, and with comment threads that are always open for new insights and discussion.)

Ok, numbers are nice, but what thrills us most about the new platform is what it can do. Over the last few months we improved our typeface pages, adding high-resolution samples, space for biographical information, and links to sources and related typefaces. We gave account holders the ability to create Sets and “Like” Uses. We expanded the Collection pages so they show more Uses and take advantage of wide screens. And we deployed an bunch of other enhancements that are best covered in another post.

We also welcomed new writers to the Blog so we can publish more frequent typographic histories, observations, and critiques.

Today, we celebrate our birthday with a few party favors. Introducing the first of an annual awards show. What follows is the “best of Fonts In Use in 2013”, as dictated by our editorial staff. This list of font uses and users is a glimpse into contemporary type-driven graphic design. We hope it surfaces content from the collection that you may have missed, and sparks you to contribute your own work — or work you admire — to the growing archive.

Uses of the Year

To us, great typography means thoughtful type choices used in skillful or unusual ways. The work below reached the pinnacle of that standard in 2013. The winners include designs from a range of formats, from exhibition and poster design to websites and book covers. They represent designers and studios from around the globe. And they span the gamut of typeface styles, both old and new, from over a dozen different foundries.

Big Plans Exhibition Design

Designed by Jessica Svendsen and Julia Novitch
Using Bureau Grot and Letter Gothic

1941: The Year That Keeps Returning Book Cover

Designed by Rumors
Using Puncho and DTL Fleischmann

Image, Building, Object Film Series Posters

Designed by James Goggin
Using Plak and an unreleased typeface by Laurenz Brunner

The Bling Ring Trailer and Posters

Designed by P+A and Silenzio Communication
Using Dom

Designing News

Designed by Francesco Franchi
Using Domaine, Atlas Grotesk, and Atlas Typewriter

Uses of the Year

Honorable Mentions

Stitching in my own way. The embroideries of Iris Todd
Stitching in my own way: The embroideries of Iris Todd
Stalkr Brand and Website
Kunst am Spreeknie Schöneweide Art Festival
Kunst am Spreeknie Schöneweide Art Festival

Pitchfork Music Festival, 2013 (Announcement)
2013 Pitchfork Music Festival Announcement
Pitchfork Music Festival, 2013
2013 Pitchfork Music Festival
2013 Pitchfork Music Festival App
2013 Pitchfork Music Festival App

Gargalo Nº 1, 2, 3, 4
Gargalo Nº 1, 2, 3, 4
Achtung: Berlin Symposium at the Yale School of Architecture
Achtung: Berlin Symposium

Messages by Dillon Francis
Messages by Dillon Francis Music Video and Album Art
Belvedere Square Market neon sign
Belvedere Square Market Sign
Fritz Müller Sparkling Wines
Fritz Müller Sparkling Wines

Users of the Year

These graphic designers and studios produced several pieces that our staff recognized as exceptional typography. For this award we looked at all the Uses in the Collection credited to a designer, not just the work produced in 2013. (When we say “Users” we mean “font users”. The best users of the site are honored in the next section: “Contributors of the Year”.)


NYC Beaches identity

InsideOut SF poster diptych
InsideOut SF poster diptych
Rockaway Beach Installations
Rockaway Beach Installations
The Printing House identity
The Printing House identity

This storied New York-based studio is well represented in our collection not just because they are famous or produce so much newsworthy, visible work, but because they obviously love type. Pentagram makes good use of a wide range of typefaces and they document that work well, writing about their type selection and giving credit to the font makers.

Nina Stössinger

“Zu bürgerlicher Eintracht und Vertraulichkeit”

10 Jahre Sprachenzentrum
10 Jahre Sprachenzentrum
Ästhetik des Opfers
Ästhetik des Opfers

Nina Stössinger is a Swiss designer of books and identities who uses a variety of typefaces (many of them very new) from various sources and lucidly articulates her choices on her site and Fonts In Use. We recognize her here not for her 2013 work, but for her rich contributions over the last three years. She can be excused for using less type recently because she’s been quite busy learning more about how to make it: Stössinger is currently a Type and Media graduate student at KABK in The Hague. She writes about that experience too.


Gargalo Liqueur

Deseo & Psiquiatría
Deseo & Psiquiatría
Gargalo identity and packaging
Gargalo Wine
El valor del tiempo perdido by Puri Núñez
El valor del tiempo perdido

Solo is a Barcelona studio founded in 2011 by Óscar Germade. Their work for a range of luxury brands and editorial publications is characterized by restraint, setting stages in which the type itself is the focal point.

Studio Laucke Siebein

Angewandt Exhibition Materials

KinderKulturMonat (ChildrenCultureMonth)
Poster for Typography Lectures at HBK Saar
Poster for Typography Lectures at HBK Saar
Flexa Creations Color Chips
Flexa Creations Color Chips

Like Stössinger, this nod to Studio Laucke Siebein is more of a multi-year achievement award. Dirk Laucke (Amsterdam) and Johanna Siebein (Berlin) give new life to unusual and forgotten typefaces in their decidedly modern work.

Users of the Year

Honorable Mentions

New York Magazine, Aug–Sep 2012
Thomas Alberty, New York Magazine
The New York Times Magazine, 2013 Food & Drink Issue
Arem Duplessis, The New York Times Magazine
The New York Times Article Redesign (May, 2013)
The New York Times Digital

Tÿpo St. Gallen 2013 identity
TGG Hafen Senn Stieger
AwardsLine: Emmy 2013, Issues 1–3
Robb Rice
Bloomberg Businessweek, Nov. 5–11, 2012
Richard Turley, Bloomberg Businessweek

Contributors of the Year

Since we opened the site to public submissions in mid-2012, these Fonts In Use visitors contributed the most interesting and discussion-provoking Uses to the Collection. Not only did they upload good images of great work, but bonus points were awarded for adding insight, commentary, or critique.

Chris Purcell

After over 30 years as a designer and lettering artist at Hallmark Cards, Chris Purcell retired in 2012. Their loss is our gain: Chris has been a voracious contributor to Fonts In Use since then, adding over 40 Uses to the Collection. His submissions are broad ranging, covering many different industries, formats, and periods. The examples are sometimes from his own collection or documented with his own photography. And many of them are more than a simple image upload: they include his commentary, which often generates further discussion.

Mille Bornes Card Game (1960 Parker Brothers Bilingual Edition)
Mille Bornes Card Game (1960 Edition)
13″ Lucite® ruler
13-inch Lucite® ruler (1970s)
<cite>Smithsonian</cite> Magazine Table of Contents (1989 & 2013)
Smithsonian Magazine Table of Contents (1989 & 2013)

Maurice Meilleur

Along with some of his own fine work, Maurice Meilleur has contributed several pieces by other designers. Maurice is an MFA student in graphic design at the University of Illinois, and his literate, academic approach is very welcome among our ranks. We’re grateful for Maurice’s extra effort in spotting interesting work, writing a useful description, and producing good imagery, either from his own photos or images generated from PDFs.

University of Illinois Department of Political Science Website
University of Illinois
Isotype: Design and Contexts, 1925–1971
Isotype: Design & Contexts
<cite>De:Bug</cite> Magazin für Elektronische Lebensaspekte
De:Bug Magazin

Patch Hofweber

Patch Hofweber is a American ex-pat living in Malmö, Sweden. His contributions number over 20 to date, and focus on web and identity design, two areas of his own multidisciplinary expertise. He sometimes supplements his submissions with a bit of typographic critique, an attribute that served him well as one of our rare guest writers on the Fonts In Use Blog.

Julius: The Cards
Julius: The Cards
Örnbergsauktionen 2013
Örnbergsauktionen 2013
A List Apart 5.0
A List Apart 5.0

Contributors of the Year

Honorable Mentions

<cite>House of Cards</cite> (Netflix Series)
Mine Creek
Google Maps (2013 Update)
Robin Rendle
Palais de Tokyo rebrand
Michael Bojkowski

Contributors of the Year

Font Foundries & Providers

Lassila & Tikanoja
Letters from Sweden
The Four Books on Architecture

Hand-drawn posters featuring FontFonts
Arquitectura Hoje
bb-bureau (Benoît Bodhuin)
Zürich Openair
Editions 205

REI Stores
Font Bureau
Heimat Berlin Website

Contributions of the Year

This is a placeholder for a future award, meant for those non-staff contributions that are exceptional in their visual documentation, critical analysis, and/or historical research. To get that ball rolling for 2014, here are a few Uses that were popular or controversial from last year:

Volksbühne Berlin Poster Campaign
Volksbühne Berlin Poster Campaign
The Other Times Modern
The Other Times Modern
<cite>Cheers</cite> Logo and Opening Titles
Cheers Logo and Opening Titles

Myspace 2013 Rebrand
Myspace 2013 Rebrand
<cite>The Third Man</cite> Movie Poster
The Third Man Movie Poster

<cite>The Great Gatsby</cite> (2013) Film Promotion
The Great Gatsby Film Promotion
2013 Tesla Model S Dashboard Display
2013 Tesla Model S Dashboard Display
Yahoo! Logo (2013)
Yahoo! Logo (2013)

Fonts In Frequent Use

In addition to the typefaces represented by our featured Uses and Users of the Year (most of which are shown in the main sidebar at the top of the page), the font families shown at right appeared most frequently in 2013 designs posted to Fonts In Use. This list only represents work in our Collection, so these certainly aren’t the most prevalent typefaces in all design today — that would be overlooking system/app bundled fonts, Core Web fonts, freebies, other perennially popular typefaces like Gotham, Interstate, and Neutraface, and revivals of classics like Caslon and Garamond. Yet they do reflect part of the current design zeitgeist: all sans serifs, most (except Alright Sans) are firmly in the static Gothic, Grotesque, or Geometric models. An odd outlier is ITC Serif Gothic. Nick Sherman has discovered that Lubalin and Di Spigna’s 1972 design is seeing a curious revival.

Early Users

Our observant co-editor Florian also noted these early adopters of typefaces newly released in 2013 or late 2012: Macula for Colin Smith, Audree for AwardsLine, Berlingske for A-Magasinet, Line for Rodeo, Domaine for Designing News, Magasin for Elle Decoration, MVB Solitaire for Assembly, FF Quixo for Publishing Design syllabus, FF Mark for Bench, Baton for L’Histoire du Diable, FF Dora for Gewone Letters, Landmark for Parc Olympique, Vinter for Queensland Ballet, and LL Circular for a number of uses.

What did we miss? With over 2,000 Uses added to the site in 2013, there is surely more typography worth honoring. What were your favorite font uses of 2013? Link ’em up in the comments below. And if your favorite design is not already in the Collection, now is the time to contribute. Your participation is vital to this endeavor.

2 Comments on “The Best of Fonts In Use in 2013”

  1. Mick says:
    Mar 4th, 2014  2:50 am

    I must say the inclusion of the “Messages by Dillon Francis” truly baffles me. It looks ugly, cheap and unconsidered. It definitely does not fit in with the quality of other work on display here.

  2. Mar 4th, 2014  10:17 pm

    Mick, with this overview, we aimed to cover the range of interesting typography in 2013, and also the variety in taste of our various staff members, to some extent. Of course it is a subjective selection, and you are free to disagree and welcome to name your own personal favorites here. “Messages” is unusual on a conceptual level, in that the music clip is exclusively made up of characters from Apple Color Emoji. Being multicolored and animated, it may not look like that, but it’s in fact a purely typographical video. We found that remarkable — and funny.

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