Sans serif typefaces are typically regarded as modern, having largely taken over the role of body text in many publications and having certainly become widely used online. Sans serif typefaces render more clearly in smaller sizes onscreen and therefore make a better digital choice than a serif font of similar dimensions.
The concept of a sans serif typeface has, however, been present in typography for many centuries. For example, early renderings of such type can be found in Greek inscriptions from the 5th century BC. The earliest recent use of a sans serif typeface was Thomas Dempster's De Etruria regali libri VI, which was published in 1723. Later that century, a Latin sans serif type was used experimentally in an inscription of Nymph in the Grotto in Stourhead. Other names for sans serif have included Gothic, Doric, Antique, Egyptian and Swiss.
The News Gothic typeface was originally developed as two lighter weight fonts: a medium weight News Gothic and another font known as Lightline Gothic. The primary font family was expanded in 1958 to include two bold weights and was later digitized by quite a number of foundries including Monotype, linotype, Adobe and Bitstream. The humanist style typeface now includes condensed, standard and extra condensed widths each with a matching italic and bold variant.
Because of its pioneering qualities, the News Gothic font has been employed in a large variety of different applications. The typeface found itself used as the headline font of several leading newspapers during the first half of the twentieth century as well as in the Polaroid Corporation logo and accompanying literature.
Other News gothic uses include the logo for the Swedish pop group ABBA, the famous Star Wars opening text, the title credits for the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho and the Brooklyn Academy of Music identity.