Greatest fonts countdown: 76 - Aktiv Grotesk

FontShop AG, the renowned type foundry, conducted a survey based on historical relevance, sales at, and aesthetic quality. With a few additions from the experts at Creative Bloq and Computer Arts magazine, the best fonts ever were selected for the new book, 100 Best Typefaces Ever.

Here we are counting down the 100 greatest fonts, but you can read interviews with some of the typefaces' creators, a brief history of type, the anatomy of a font, and much, much more in the book – find out how to get your copy in print or digital formats at the foot of this post.

But without further ado, here is the 76th best typeface…

76. Aktiv Grotesk

  • Fabio Haag et al, 2009

Aktiv Grotesk is a beautiful sans-serif, designed collaboratively at renowned studio Dalton Maag. The font itself was designed to provide an alternative to Helvetica. Bruno Maag told Creative Review magazine in an interview: "We wanted to have a grotesk font positioned somewhere between Helvetica and Univers – not as icy cold as Univers but devoid of all the quirks of Helvetica.

"To have a font that is beautifully crafted, spaced well, with not a chink in a curve or anything – perfectly drawn but hopefully with a bit of personality." See it used to great effect on the English National Ballet’s posters (pictured left) and as a very successful web font at

Aktiv Grotesk – designed as a modern alternative to Helvetica – was used to great effect in this campaign by the English National Ballet

Aktiv Grotesk – designed as a modern alternative to Helvetica – was used to great effect in this campaign by the English National Ballet

The 100 Best Typefaces Ever

This is an extract from The 100 Best Typefaces Ever, the definitive guide to the greatest fonts ever created, in association with FontShop AG. Over 180 premium pages, the book dissects the world's greatest typefaces, bringing you some insightful background on each and interviews with their creators.

You can pick up the book at all good newsagents today or order it online. Or you can download a digital edition directly to your iPad from the Computer Arts app on iTunes.

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Rob Carney

Rob is editorial, graphic design and publishing lead at Transport for London. He previously worked at Future Publishing over the course of several years, where he launched digital art magazine, ImagineFX; and edited graphic design magazine Computer Arts, as well as the Computer Arts Projects series, and was also editor of technology magazine, T3.