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Explore the Past

Cronos Pro
Avenir
Futura

cronos pro Robert Slimbach, 1997

Cronos Pro is a humanist sans serif. The underlying structure of its romans references calligraphy of the Italian Renaissance. Its high x-height and modulated strokes (with angled ends and extended apexes) help Cronos read at smaller sizes. Overall thickness, rounded edges, and curved tails introduce whim with a nonintrusive presence. Critics have argued that, from a creative license standpoint, Cronos too closely resembles Today Sans, designed by Volker Küster 11 years earlier.

avenir Adrian Frutiger, 1988

Avenir, translated from “future” in French, is a geometric sans serif constructed to be a more balanced and humanistic Futura. Taller x-height, shortened ascenders, flattened vertices (A, M, N, V, W, Y), and an open aperture aid Avenir’s legibility, so cities and airports frequently apply it with commercial signage and branding. Though for the most part transparent, it features a recognizable Q, y, and j that call attention to spacing (of which, otherwise, the typeface calls for little).

futura Paul Renner (1927), Edwin W. Shaar (1952), Tommy Thompson (1955)

Futura, one of the first geometric sans serifs, epitomizes Renner’s belief that a modern typeface should be a new design. Avoiding ornament, its forms are based on shapes that became visual elements associated with the Bauhaus. Elongated strokes end in sharp triangles on capital A and M, and the counter of the O is optically round. As the name implies, the typeface came to symbolize the future and was used accordingly on the commemorative plaque left on the Moon in 1969.