April 28, 2006

Curious George: Typeface. I'm trying to find the name of a typeface used by National Geographic in its paper maps. See this sample (e.g. "Thessaloniki") or this (all town names). All the samples I'm finding are too tiny to run through engines like WhatThe Font.

I did find this post where NGS claimed ownership over the fonts, which is all well and good, but I'm not necessarily looking for someone's proprietary font. One that's close is good enough. It looks sort of like Avenir but has a lot more personality, sort of a coarse, hewn feel.

  • Hiragino Kaku Gothic Pro, which comes standard in OSX, seems a little similar, with its' barely visible serifs, and the lowercase 'g' is right on. Myriad could be another one close enough. I'd say the best bet is to scan a printed sample and post it to the WTFont forums; I've got big help more than once there, when the engine fails to turn up a match.
  • Looks like Casablanca.
  • No it isn't.
  • Ah well I'll hook up my wife's scanner tomorrow and see if I can figure it out.. if so I'll report back.
  • It's very strange... there are a lot of references to the relevant redesign that National Geographic went through recently, but none to any specific font. All signs point to an in-house typeface. However, I feel Alisal captures the feel, if not the legibility at tiny sizes. (Someone in a Typophile thread discussing a similar font used in the magazine made an oblique reference to it being a "Carter font," so I looked through Matthew Carter's work on MyFonts and found that one.)
  • WhatTheFont bombs badly; the engine even kept crashing when I gave it a better sample. So I sent it to their forum for help, here. As far as the seriffed font sometimes used for cultural features, that identified quite clearly as Absara; myfonts doesn't sell it and refers to some site that wants $225, but there are close alternatives.