It is a versatile type and can be used in a wide range of circumstances.
It is a striking type, with large serifs, large counters and letters that produce a particularly strong horizontal impression.
This means that words and lines in Neue Swift are easily distinguished, even where there are large spaces between words, as can occur in newsprint.
Neue Swift's large, robust counters were designed to improve legibility particularly in newspapers. It was designed in the early eighties, when papers were less well printed than they are today, and its special features help it survive on grey, rough paper printed on fast rotary presses.
Today it is used more often outside newspapers than in them. Neue Swift (2009) is the newest version of the Swift concept.
It has been improved by technical and aesthetic enhancements, and has been expanded into a family of twelve variants.
Gerard Unger was born in Arnhem in the Netherlands in 1942; as a young man, he studied graphic design, typography and type design (1963-67) and then went on to work at Total Design, Prad and Joh. Enschedé before establishing himself as an independent designer, going freelance in 1975.
The original inspiration for the Swift typeface was the movement of the similarly named bird – particularly the soaring and sweeping motions made through the sky as it flew. This influence can be seen in the curves and angles of the typeface which, despite its newspaper feel remains a very lyrical artistic achievement. It was released by Dr.-Ing. Rudolf Hell GmbH (commonly abbreviated to “Hell” – German for “Bright”) in 1985.
The subsequent re-release, Swift 2.0, re-drawn from scratch using Postscript outlines. Since the original Swift had been digitized using the subsequently defunct IKARUS system, a new version of the font was warranted. This font was published by Unger himself in 1995.
The extension of the Swift font family resulting in Neue Swift was made possible by the collaboration of Unger and Linotype; the OpenType font released as a result contained not only a greatly extended character set but also many new glyphs per letter. This would allow the typeface to be used in a variety of countries for which it had, until that time, not been suitable. The Neue Swift font family was published in 2009.
The original Swift font family found almost instant success in the publishing industry in the 1980s, rejuvenating the look of many dated newspaper styles. Italian newspaper il manifesto use Swift for headlining purposes, as does the Belgian newspaper De Morgen. How magazine used the Swift font family before being redesigned in 2000.
Not only the domain of the daily press, Swift and Neue Swift have been used in book publication since their release. One particularly notable example is Type and Typography by Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam, for which the font was modified to show an instance of font usage.