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Grotesque fonts

Grotesques fonts (sometimes called ‘grotesk’) are among the earliest sans serif designs. Instead of true italics they often come with obliques or slanted (sometimes optically adjusted) versions of the upright letters. Grotesque fonts are typically characterized by low contrast and, although once considered rather plain, they now come in a dizzying array of weights and widths, from rather neutral designs to others which blur the boundaries between grotesque, neo-grotesque, and other categories of sans serifs. Among the modern-day classic grotesque typefaces is the large Brandon Grotesque font family.

Questions about grotesque fonts

Why are they called Grotesque?
No one knows for sure, but one story suggests that in the early days these fonts were considered ungainly, ugly, or ‘grotesque’!

What’s the difference between Grotesque and Neo-Grotesque fonts?
Read our guide to learn the difference between grotesque and neo-grotesque typefaces.

Are Grotesque fonts more or less ‘neutral’ than Neo-Grotesque fonts?
Grotesque style font families (Grotesk in German) are often a little more flamboyant or have more irregular or even decorative details. This lends Grotesque fonts, especially those modeled after 19th-century wood-types, ‘warmer’ or ‘friendlier’.

Is it grotesque or grotesk?
Grotesk is German for grotesque and often appears in the names of grotesque fonts like Grato Grotesk or Tragic Grotesk, for example.