Helvetica is no stranger to the design world. It’s clear, legible, and safe, which makes it a great choice for designers and readers alike. But if you want to give your designs a little something extra – something like Helvetica, but not quite Helvetica – you’ve come to the right place. Thousands of fonts fall into this category and can add the extra personality you’re looking for. Below are ten of our personal favorites. Enjoy!
1. Akzidenz Grotesk
Before Helvetica was created, there was Akzidenz Grotesk. You can think of it as a grandparent to Helvetica, so you’ll notice a lot of the same traits, such as being clean and natural. The difference is that this font is smaller, rounder, and friendlier than its grandchild.
2. Neue Haas Grotesk
Neue Haas Grotesk was released after Akzidenz Grotesk, but before Helvetica. It’s very similar to Helvetica, but has softer curves and more natural italics. The family has 44 different fonts to enjoy, making it easy to find the perfect pick for your project.
3. Aktiv Grotesk
The cool thing about Aktiv Grotesk is that it was created as an alternative to Helvetica. Designer Bruno Maag stated that Helvetica was the “vanilla ice cream” of a designer’s typeface library. With its new roots, Aktiv Grotesk has a taller x-height and squarer edges.
Compared to Helvetica, Univers is smaller and has bigger spaces between the letters. You’ll find a number of weights and variations to choose from within the family of fonts, which are all defined by a number suffix.
Another one of our favorites, Slate comes to us from award-winning type designer Rod McDonald. It’s a clear, legible font that happens to be beautiful and natural. With its pleasing nature, Slate has become a top pick for simple, tasteful designs.
6. FF Bau
Designed in 2002 by Christian Schwartz for FontShop International, FF Bau is distinct thanks to its double-storey “g” and lowercase “a” that’s available in all different weights. The font shares similarities with Akzidenz Grotesk.
7. Brandon Grotesque
Brandon Grotesque gives off a sophisticated side because of its thinner weights and rounded stems. Though there’s just 12 fonts, there’s enough to choose from to bring balance and consistency to your designs.
8. ARS Maquette
ARS Maquette is clean and simplified, adding a modern edge to the traditional Helvetica. In 2010, the basic five-weight family was expanded to include true italics and a wider support of language.
9. Proxima Nova
Proxima Nova was created to fill the gap between Futura and Akzidenz Grotesk, which it did impressively well. It combines modern proportions with a geometric edge, and effortlessly ties in rational curves on letters like lowercase “e” or uppercase “G”.
National is humble, but it manages to demand attention thanks to its wide range of accents, numerals and small caps across all styles. The font ties in classic sans-serif typefaces that were around before Akzidenz Grotesk made its debut.
The next time you’re looking for a unique font that doesn’t stray too far from Helvetica, check out some of the fonts listed above. And if you’re interested in sprucing up your headlines, read our post on distinctive headline fonts. You’re bound to find something you love!
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