Geneva (typeface)

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Category Sans-serif
Classification Realist sans-serif
Designer(s) Susan Kare
Foundry Apple Computer

Geneva is a realist sans-serif typeface designed by Susan Kare for Apple Computer. It is one of the oldest fonts shipped with the Macintosh operating system. The original version was a bitmap font, but later versions were converted to TrueType when that technology became available on the Macintosh platform. Because this Macintosh font is not commonly available on other platforms, many users find Verdana, Microsoft Sans Serif or Arial to be an acceptable substitute.

Geneva was originally a redesigned version of the famous Linotype typeface Helvetica; the TrueType version of the font is somewhat different. Helvetica comes from the Latin name for Switzerland, in which sans-serifs of this type are very popular; Geneva is Switzerland's second-largest city.

The bitmap version varied by appearance in different sizes; in smaller sizes, the lowercase i, j and l had serifs on the top, the lowercase y was parallel, and the 3 had a flat top. Larger sizes of the font depicted said characters as how they appear in the TrueType version.

Unusually for neo-grotesque faces, the current version of Geneva includes a basic set of ligatures and the archaic long s and R rotunda as optional alternates.

A slightly modified version of Geneva known as Simple can be found in the Apple Newton operating system.


  • Notes on 4 Apple Fonts — a description of the design of the TrueType versions of Chicago, New York, Geneva and Monaco.