Benton Sans

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Category Realist Sans-serif
Designer(s) Tobias Frere-Jones, Cyrus Highsmith
Commissioned by Martha Stewart Living, Worth

Font Bureau
Webtytpe (2015-2016)[1]

Type Network (2016-)[2]

Benton Sans is a digital typeface family begun by Tobias Frere-Jones in 1995, and expanded by Cyrus Highsmith of Font Bureau. It was a reworked version of Benton Gothic developed for various corporate customers, under Frere-Jones's guidance. In developing the typeface, Frere-Jones studied drawings of Morris Fuller Benton's 1908 typeface News Gothic at the Smithsonian Institution. The typeface began as a proprietary type, initially titled MSL Gothic, for Martha Stewart Living magazine and the website for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. As Benton Gothic, there are 7 weights from Thin to Black and only 2 widths.

When working for retail version of the font, the family was harmonized and given the new name called Benton Sans. In 2002-2003, Cyrus Highsmith added additional widths, weights, and italics to the typeface family, and the face was released for public use under the name Benton Sans. The extra weight and widths also served as optically-corrected replacements for Franklin Gothic, Alternate Gothic, Lightline Gothic.

Like News Gothic, Benton Sans follows the neo-grotesque model. Distinct characters are the two-story lowercase a, the two-story lowercase g, and a blunt terminus at the apex of the lowercase t. The tail of the uppercase Q is distinct for being located completely outside the bowl. The character set is compact, and descenders are shallow. The typeface differs from other realist sans-serifs in its organic shapes and subtle transitions of stroke width, all contributing to a less severe, humanist tone of voice. Benton Sans has a wider, less compact character set than News Gothic. The typeface includes text figures (old style figures) providing a refinement not available in News Gothic.

Benton Sans font family originally consists of 26 fonts in 8 weights, and 4 widths for all but Extra Light and Thin families, which only include the widest width. On December 18, 2008, The Font Bureau Inc. announced the expansion of the font family. The expanded family has 128 fonts in 8 weights, and 4 widths for all weights, with complementary italic and small caps.[3]

Benton Sans RE (2010)[edit]

It is a version of Benton Sans font designed by David Berlow for screen use between 9 to 18 pixels. Changes include exaggerate the glyph features, larger clearances between letter features, reduced stroke contrasts, wider and more open letterforms with increased letter spacing, larger x-heights, shortened ascenders and descenders.[4] Other changes include 1-storey small g, addition of lower right tail in small a, truncation of vertical stem in cedilla, stretched top hook in small f, linked f bar to dotless i in fi ligature (fi), semicircular O in capital OE ligature (Œ), small numeral 1 without bottom bar, 2-storey a in @, diagonal stem and leaned hooks in integral sign (∫), addition of lower left ball serif in small Greek mu and micro signs (μ), addition of lower right tail in small Greek pi (π), downward left hook in square root sign (√), wedged acute and grave diacritical marks, circular dots in commas, quotation marks, exclamation marks, question marks, decimal point, division sign; stretched upper tail in partial differential sign (∂), wedged quotation marks in primes and back quote marks, smaller angle brackets in angle bracket marks, sharper lower tip in single dagger mark, sharper tips in asterisk, elimination of loop in pound currency sign (£), vertical stem in cent currency sign (¢), separation of plus and minus signs in plus-minus sign (±).

The font family includes 4 fonts in 2 weights (regular, bold) and 1 width (between normal and extended width), with complementary italic.

Benton Sans Wide (2013)[edit]

On August 7, 2013, The Font Bureau Inc. announced the expansion of the Benton Sans font family, which included the addition of Wide width fonts to Benton Sans font family. In addition, small caps and figure styles, extended Latin character set, language support are included in all Benton Sans fonts.

The updated Benton Sans font family includes 80 fonts in 5 widths and 8 weights, with complementary italic.[5][6]

Usage examples[edit]

Corporate branding[edit]


  • Blackwell, Lewis. 20th Century Type. Yale University Press: 2004. ISBN 0-300-10073-6.
  • Fiedl, Frederich, Nicholas Ott and Bernard Stein. Typography: An Encyclopedic Survey of Type Design and Techniques Through History. Black Dog & Leventhal: 1998. ISBN 1-57912-023-7.
  • Macmillan, Neil. An A–Z of Type Designers. Yale University Press: 2006. ISBN 0-300-11151-7.
  • Meggs, Phillip B. Revival of the Fittest. RC Publications, Inc: 2002. ISBN 1-883915-08-2.

External links[edit]