If you're looking for a legible, timeless font, humanist typefaces might be the perfect choice. In this article, we'll take a look at humanist typeface characteristics, as well as a humanist typeface list for inspiration and addition to your font library. So, if you love fonts, look no further—let's dig into some humanist font design.
What Is a Humanist Typeface?
When we discuss humanist typefaces, we're talking about type classification. This is a means of visually describing and analyzing different typefaces, based on their characteristics.
If you're unfamiliar with type classification, we have a free course you can check out right now. It's an excellent introduction to type anatomy and classifications—perfect for beginners, but also an excellent refresher for experienced designers. Check it out today, absolutely free.
So, what is a humanist typeface? Defining humanist typeface characteristics is an interesting task, because you can find information out there on both humanist sans serif fonts and humanist serif typefaces. What's the deal?
The information out there may vary, depending on the source. Old style serifs are also sometimes referred to as humanist. In this case, we're talking about a humanist old style typeface like Jensen or Goudy Old Style. While we'll focus more on sans serifs than on humanist old style typeface design in this article, it's still interesting to note the similarities—that calligraphic quality.
Old style serif typefaces are often associated with the word "humanist" for their more natural, calligraphy-like quality. You may also see old style type called the Venetians, and some will classify humanist serifs and old styles separately, both "at the beginning" of the serif timeline. We won't focus on old style or serifs in this article, but be aware of the association.
Instead, let's turn to humanist sans serif type. Humanist fonts are considered to be highly legible, with less of a stiff aesthetic and more of an organic feel. A popular humanist typeface list would include well-known fonts such as Gill Sans, Myriad, Open Sans, Verdana, and Optima.
When we think of sans serifs, we might automatically think of geometric type or something quite stiff and mechanical. Humanist sans serif type, on the other hand, feel more natural, with more organic strokes than other sans serif type. In fact, it can often feel as if these sans serifs have borrowed this aesthetic from serif genres.
That's the beauty of type design—you can (and often should) borrow from other aesthetics. Consider type classification to be a means of understanding and identifying characteristics, rather than rigid rules to follow. Being aware of these characteristics can help you decide which font might be best to turn to for your project.
You may look at some humanist sans serif type and think: I don't particularly see anything calligraphic here. It's still a sans serif! But look closely at the way the strokes in the letters curve and connect. It's not about being highly graphic or decorative, as we might see in actual calligraphy—but rather that the letters have a more natural stroke, as opposed to the colder, stiffer consistency we often see in other sans serif type.
These fonts are a wonderful choice for body copy, as they tend to have high legibility and readability. That's not to say they can't work in other ways, too—a well-designed humanist sans serif can prove to be a very versatile addition to your font library. Grab a font family with varied weights, and a well-designed humanist font can carry its own.
Let's take a look at some beautifully designed sans serif fonts—some of them with very direct and highly visible humanist inspiration, and others with humanist inspiration mixed with other genres. Feel free to add these lovely type designs to your collection today, or sit back and enjoy the type inspiration.
Elegant Humanist Typefaces on Envato Elements
If you love fonts, check out Envato Elements. One low, flat fee gets you access to a huge library of thousands of fonts. It's a bargain, especially if you like trying out lots of new fonts. Not only that, but they come with a commercial license too—so no worrying about the licensing terms here. It's all spelled out in advance and all appropriate for your professional projects.
This means you get premium quality fonts, with a commercial license, at a bargain price tag.
But Envato Elements isn't only a collection of fonts. You can find graphics, stock photos, print templates, and even a new WordPress theme for your website. Pick up some stock video or even some audio for your next project.
Whether you're looking for a resume template or a multi-page document for a magazine design, you can find it on Envato Elements—and it's all included, with unlimited downloads.
This is what makes Envato Elements such an awesome addition to your resources. With unlimited downloads, you have thousands of assets at your fingertips, whenever you need them. Don't worry about costs adding up, because you can download as much or as little as you need.
So, if you're looking for some new additions to your font library, give Envato Elements a look. Try out a dozen fonts, and then try out a dozen more! And, while you're at it, why not pick up some stock photos, a few illustrations, and a template or two? It's all included.
Here's a list of some of the best humanist fonts on Envato Elements, as well some more modern and derivative fonts that take inspiration from humanist sans serif fonts. Download some new fonts from this humanist typeface list, or sit back and enjoy the beautiful type inspiration.
This beautiful sans serif font family was designed with the humanist aesthetic in mind. Check out all 18 members of this impressive and versatile font family. It's perfect for print, but could serve so many design solutions very well.
Here's another beautiful humanist inspired typeface. Do you see the slight curvature at the end of some of the strokes here? The lower case "a" in particular has some beautiful but subtle curves that give it a softer feel than we might see in some geometric type.
This sans serif type is quite stylistic. It includes some stylistic alternates, as well as a regular and italic variation. Use this one for display type or try it out at smaller sizes too.
Enjoy the versatility of this beautifully designed sans serif typeface. The lower case "a" strays from what we might expect to see from a humanist font, but we still see some rather organic strokes here. It's a mixed aesthetic with a lot of potential.
Choose from three different variants with this sans serif typeface: regular, light, and smooth. It has a lot of height and is a great fit for points of emphasis. Check out the sample body copy, though; it has potential for smaller type too.
This typeface has a bit of Myriad energy, doesn't it? It's classy, and the strokes have a subtle, organic feel to them. This is one of those fonts with huge possibilities: pair it with others, or let it hold its own in your next composition.
Isn't this a stylish font? The stroke width is rather consistent, or even stiff, but note some of the curvature, particularly in the lower case "a". This smooth curve adds an interesting twist to this aesthetic. This is a stylish addition to any font library.
If you're looking for a font that can do it all, this typeface might just be what you're looking for. It also includes five different weights, so there's plenty to work with here.
This font is more stylistic, and it gives the type a really fun and memorable look. We still have a lot of sweeping strokes that give it a less stiff and more organic look and feel. It almost has a vintage vibe, doesn't it?
The strokes here are a bit more uniform, but the versatility cannot be understated. This is one of those fonts that can serve so many different roles in your composition. Try pairing it with a script font or a serif.
Check out this stylish sans serif font. Use it as your next web font, or use this one as a beautiful addition to your next print project. This one has plenty of potential and possibility.
If you're looking for something more stylized, take a look at this font. It's got quite a bit of height as well as some beautiful curvature to the strokes of each letter. Check out the stylized "M" and some of the lovely tilt in the letters.
The contrast in this font is subtle but impactful. Choose from 12 different styles, all included with this font download. It means there's plenty to work with. Pair it with a decorative font or let it hold its own.
This skillfully designed sans serif typeface comes in two different styles—one with straight terminals and one with tilted ones. This font family includes an unbelievable 40 different variants to choose from. What an amazing design!
If you really like curves, you're going to love this sans serif typeface. Isn't it fun? It has so much movement and such a memorable, eccentric style. It's definitely not your average humanist, but it certainly takes the calligraphic idea to the next level.
Here's a chunky sans serif font with an interesting organic quality. Check out the stylistic curve at the end of many of the strokes. There's also a slight tilt here that gives the type even more personality.
This is an interesting font, because the contrast is a little reminiscent of a didone. Still, we see some interesting strokes here that have a rather organic curve. This font would be lovely for fashion and high-end products.
A beautiful font with a versatile neutrality, this typeface is an excellent choice for a solid, overall addition to your font library. Work with all five of the included weights to use this one as a standalone type choice in your next design.
Here is another interesting font that takes from more than one influence. We see some geometric inspiration, but we still see some curve and some stroke variation that feel a little organic. It's a fun font with seven included weights.
The variation in these strokes is really charming, isn't it? This sans serif has some lovely alternates to experiment with too. Give this versatile font a try. It would be a great addition to any font library.
The curvature in the lower case "a" here is so stylistic and memorable. We see some of that in the "r" too. It's a fun approach that could work in so many different ways in your next design.
The Best Humanist Fonts on GraphicRiver
There's also a beautiful gallery of humanist typefaces over on GraphicRiver. It's a wonderful choice if you're not necessarily looking for an entire library of downloads. If single downloads or pay as you go is more your style, then GraphicRiver is right for you. Check out the work of a diverse collection of independent artists—there are so many different fonts to check out. Download from their portfolio and support their outstanding works.
Check out this list of some of the best humanist fonts on GraphicRiver. It also includes some additional styles with humanist typeface characteristics.
1. PF Zanu Font
Here's a sample of five of the included weights in this lovely font family. Stylish and clean, this typeface is an excellent addition to your font collection if you're looking for a versatile new font.
Soft and rather rounded, this humanist font works well at different sizes. From logos to headlines, body copy to subtitles, give this one a try in a variety of different design scenarios.
This is a font that could easily serve several roles in the same composition. It also has the same kind of neutrality that would make it a great supplement to other typefaces. Give this one a look.
The designer of this font described this design as "universal", and it's true—this font, and its several variants, make an amazing addition to so many designs and aesthetics. The neutrality here gives it that timeless versatility.
This font is a bit more geometric and a little less humanist—but we see more of those organic-leaning humanist qualities shine through when we take a look at some of the lower case letters. Take a look at the previews.
We see a lot of humanist qualities in this professionally designed typeface. The variants make it a strong addition to any designer's toolkit. Try pairing this font with more decorative styles, or keep it clean and sleek on its own.
Doesn't this look like a lovely font pair? Well, it's actually two of 12 included variants of this typeface. There's so much to work here—you really have to check out the previews to get a feel for how versatile this beautiful font is.
Which Are Your Favorite Humanist Typefaces?
Whether you prefer a strong, humanist bold font or a lighter, humanist script font like an italic old style serif, there are plenty of font choices out there. Humanist fonts bring a softer aesthetic to what can often be a more mechanical-looking genre of typeface design. What are some of your favorite humanist typefaces?
If you love fonts, remember to give Envato Elements a look. It has unlimited downloads—meaning you can happily choose any font from a library of thousands, all for one low price. It's an awesome deal for font lovers and professional designers, whether you're looking for a humanist sans serif or a different kind of font.
Prefer to pick and choose? Remember, there's an impressive library of professionally designed work over on GraphicRiver too. Choose fonts from a number of impressive designers and add some new humanist font designs to your collection today.
If you're looking for even more font inspiration, check out these collections. There are so many beautiful typefaces to see, and there are even free downloads in there too. Happy designing!
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