While many consider it to be the quintessential British type style, the Gill Sans® typeface family has been used in virtually every country – and for every application imaginable. The reason for Gill Sans’ near ubiquity is because it is an exceptionally distinctive design with a potential range of use that is almost limitless.
Gill Sans History
Eric Gill, the man responsible for designing Gill Sans, was a versatile and brilliant talent in the early part of the last century. He was active, prolific and successful in many disciplines from wood engraving to sculpture and calligraphy. In the 1920s, he began an association with Monotype and, in 1928, his first typeface, Gill Sans, was released. This was followed by the Perpetua® and Joanna® designs.
Were it not for Stanley Morison, typographic consultant to Monotype in the early 1920s, Gill would not have produced any of the faces he did. Morison’s commanding personality, lofty scholarship and control over what fonts were developed at Monotype, made him one of the most powerful forces in modern typeface development. After first reviving several classical type styles to serve as the foundation of the new Monotype® typeface library, Morison thought that a truly modern face (designed by a living artist) should be released. He also thought that Eric Gill was ideal for the job.
Early in his career, Gill apprenticed under Edward Johnston, the famous British calligrapher. During this time he was able to collaborate with Johnston on one of the calligrapher’s most well known projects: the signage alphabet for the London Underground system. Morison was aware of Johnston’s sans serif font, and when, several years later, he saw lettering by Gill using many of the same letterforms, it struck him that a typeface based on this alphabet would be highly marketable. In Morison’s plan, Gill Sans was to be the British counterpart to the Futura® design.
One of reasons for the enduring success of Gill Sans is that it is based on Roman character shapes and proportions and is unlike virtually any other sans serif typeface. There is also warmth and humanity found in Gill Sans that is found in few sans serif typefaces. In addition, each weight in the family retains a distinct character of its own. They were not “mechanically” produced from a single design, as is the case with many other sans serif designs. The light is open and elegant. The regular, with its flat-bottomed d, flat-topped p and q and triangular-topped t, has a more compact and muscular appearance. The bold tends to echo the softer, more open style of the light, while the extra bold and ultra bold have their own vivid personalities.
Gill Sans Usage
Gill Sans has been popular almost from its inception. In the year following its release, it was chosen to be the official font for the LNER railway system. Gill Sans would go on to appear on nearly everything associated with the company, from the menus used in its dining cars to the timetables printed for use in its stations to posters advertising the railway. In 1948, the newly created British Railways also opted to use Gill Sans for all printed media, including its timetables. Gill Sans continues to be a popular choice, as it has been featured prominently by the Church of England, which adopted the typeface in 2000 when publishing its series of books known as Common Worship. Saab Automobile uses Gill Sans in all its marketing and advertising materials, and Gill Sans has also been the corporate typeface of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) since 1997.
Licenses for desktop fonts
A typical desktop font EULA will allow you to install the font on your computer for use with authoring tools including word processors, design tools and other applications that permit font selection. Fonts can also be used for creation of print documents, static images (JPEG, TIFF, PNG) and logos. The cost of a desktop font license is determined by the number of workstations on which the font is to be used.View the desktop EULA for this family
Licenses for Fonts.com Web Fonts subscriptions
The Fonts.com Web Fonts license provides access to a selection of fonts for use on websites for use with CSS@font-face. Font delivery from our global network is available through all subscriptions – even our free plan. Some plans include the option to self-host, access to desktop fonts, and use of our FontExplorer X font manager and Typecast design application. The price of a plan is determined by its pageview allowance and other features included.View the Fonts.com Web Fonts subscription license agreement
Licenses for mobile apps
A mobile app license permits the embedding of the font into the iOS, Android or Windows RT mobile platforms. Licenses are platform-specific meaning a separate license is required for each platform the font is embedded into. Licenses remain valid for the total operating life of the app and a new license is not required to cover free updates to the app.Learn more about licenses for mobile apps
Licenses for electronic publications (eBooks)
An electronic publication license can be used for the embedding of fonts into electronic documents including e-books, e-magazines and e-newspapers. A license covers only a single title but is valid for the full operating life of that title. Every issue of an e-magazine, e-newspaper or other form of e-periodical is considered a separate, new publication. Format variations do not count as separate publications. If a publication is updated and distributed to existing users, a new license is not required. However, updated versions issued to new customers are defined as new publications and require a separate license.Learn more about licenses for eBooks
Server licenses authorize the installation of a font on a server that is accessed by remote users or website visitors. These licenses are commonly used by Web-based businesses providing goods that are personalized by its users such as business cards, images with captions and personalized merchandise. Users are not allowed to download the font file and the font may not be used outside the server environment. The font may not be employed for a software as a service (SaaS) application in which the service is the actual product and not the means of providing the product. Server licenses cover a set number of CPU cores on production servers (development servers are not counted) on which the font is installed. The license is valid for 1 year.Learn more about server licenses