Typeface & Font Basics

Visual Identity

Introductory information on the typefaces used in developing UNU communications materials.

It is common for guidelines to declare strict limitations on typefaces and font usage on communications products. UNU’s visual identity guidelines instead endorse a typographic sensibility, providing flexibility in approach without sacrificing the desired “look and feel” amongst touchpoints.

What’s the difference between a typeface and a font? In simple terms, a font is a specific style of a typeface while a typeface is a set of fonts with stylistically similar features. For example, Avenir Book, Avenir Medium Italic and Avenir Bold are fonts and are part of the Avenir typeface. In real terms, the UNU annual report is built upon the Avenir typeface; chapter titles and headers use Avenir Bold. Body copy, captions and tabular data use Avenir Book.

Avenir typeface from an annual report spread.

Sans-Serif Typefaces

UNU’s core informational materials are typeset in Avenir, a geometric sans-serif typeface. Alternates to this typeface are Helvetica Neue and Gotham. Open source licensed typeface options include Montserrat and Source Sans Pro.

Type Samples – Sans Serif
Sans-serif typefaces: Avenir and Helvetica Neue.

Serif Typefaces

Serif alternates are regularly used in internal and reporting documents, but may also be used for general communications materials. Times Roman is a historical option, and Goudy Old Style a more modern option (used on this guide). An open source license option is Liberation Serif.

Type Samples – Serif
Serif Typefaces: Goudy Old Style and Times Roman.

Display Typefaces

UNU uses Aleo and Lato when a display typeface is needed. Display typefaces are used to support the primary typeface in bringing an accent or emphasis to a layout (e.g., headlines, pull quotes) but should be used in moderation. These can be used with both sans-serif and serif typefaces. Aleo and Lato are open source licensed.

Type Samples – Display
Display Typefaces: Aleo and Lato.

Licensing Typefaces

Commercially licensed (paid) typefaces used in the UNU visual identity have been selected for their quality and cost-effectiveness (Avenir, Helvetica Neue, Goudy Old Style,Times Roman). The responsibility of purchasing the necessary licenses lies within the individual areas (institutes and units) of the UNU. Open source license typefaces listed as options (Montserrat, Source Sans Pro, Liberation Serif, Aleo, Lato) are available under the SIL Open Font License (OFL). Learn more about the OFL here, and find these typefaces online.

Consult with your local IT support before downloading or installing fonts or software.