The Typehead Chronicles: Avenir
      Of Thomas Christensen, ABCedminded Typesetter  

homeward bound




Identifying Characteristics

  • horizontal tail on Q
  • squared-off end to G with bar extending to left and flat section below
  • double-story a
  • single-story g
  • flat top vertices, pointed bottom vertex on M

Compared to Futura, the x-height and the aperture are bigger. Whereas V shapes (A, M, N, V, W, etc.) are pointed in Futura, they are squared off in Avenir.The j and y have curved rather than straight tails; the Q has a horizontal tail. Unlike Futura's ball and stick a, the Avenir a is more conventional-and more legible.


Designed by Adrian Frutiger and released by Linotype-Hell AG in 1988. The design is based on Erbar and Futura. Compared to Futura, the x-height and the aperture are bigger.

Character and Use

A popular brand identity font used by the web search engine AltaVista, the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, among others.

Say What?

"Looking back on more than 40 years of concern with sans serif typefaces, I felt an obligation to design a linear style of sans serif, in the tradition of Erbar, Futura, and to a lesser extent Gill Sans. These have purely constructed characters from which the element of a handwriting movement has been removed. Obviously this could not be an outstanding new creation, but I have tried to make use of the experience and stylistic developments of the 20th century in order to work out an independent alphabet meeting modern typographical needs. Even though Avenir™ can be classified as a constructivist typeface, it does not have a purely geometric and linear drawing. The vertical stroke lengths have been reduced in order to make text setting more legible, on the well-established grounds that the human eye takes in horizontals more easily than verticals and tends to grasp the meaning of a line in a horizontal sweep.... Avenir is intended to be nothing more nor less than a clear and clean representation of modern typographical trends, giving the designer a typeface which is strictly modern and at the same time humane, ie suitable refined and elegant for use in texts of any length."
      -- Adrian Frutiger (for more see






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