Fonts may trigger memory as pungently as perfume: Gill Sans can summon up exam papers.

Gill Sans is a humanist sans-serif typeface designed by Eric Gill around 1926-28 which achieved huge prominence almost immediately. It was adopted heavily by the London and North Eastern Railway system, appearing on timetables, station signs, train nameplates, and advertising posters. It is very similar to the original London Underground font although there are a few subtle differences. Gill Sans is still widely admired and can be seen in use in many places, including the BBC and Network Rail, as well as a number of popular movie posters and adverts.

Gill Sans lends itself for many types of jobs. It has clean lines but lacks the symmetry and geometry of Futura or Univers. This makes it a bit friendlier and more artistic looking. Many people seem to dislike the heavier weights of this font. Humanist 521, Granby, Bliss and Agenda are a few of the alternatives to Gill Sans.

Gill Sans is occasionally referred to as ‘the Helvetica of England.’


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