Handpicked Typefaces

What’s New in Gill Sans Nova?

November 13, 2015 by
David Sudweeks
David Sudweeks

Monotype’s new Eric Gill Series introduces new styles, better and more uniform language support, and Joanna Sans, a completely new typeface. But comparing it to previous versions of Gill Sans and Joanna, what’s actually new?

Gill Sans Light, Gill Sans Nova Light. Note the spurless **p** and **d** in Gill Sans Nova, redrawn to make a more uniform set of characters across weights.
Gill Sans Light, Gill Sans Nova Light. Note the spurless p and d in Gill Sans Nova, redrawn to make a more uniform set of characters across weights.



A close look shows that everything’s changed. Even the most common letterforms have been redrawn and refit. The process resulted in improved spacing overall, and forms with better continuity across weights. The below example highlights new styles that didn’t exist in previous digital versions of Gill Sans and Joanna. Obviously, Joanna Sans is completely new.

There’s a lot to discover that’s not as evident—like Greek and Cyrillic support present throughout, even the caps-only Inline and Outline styles. Before, this level of language support was only found in a few select styles. Also, this adorable set of manicules drawn by Gill but (as far as I know) heretofore never produced.

Joanna has also changed a lot in the Nova, and in ways that are much more noticeable. In Monotype’s previous version, Joanna MT Pro, the forms are more condensed and tightly fit (good for display work, bad for text sizes).

Joanna MT Pro at 12 pt, Joanna Nova at 10.5 pt.
Joanna MT Pro at 12 pt, Joanna Nova at 10.5 pt.

One place it’s especially easy to see how the forms have changed is in the italic. See how tight and condensed the previous Joanna Italic appears? The latest Joanna has better page presence due to its more modestly expanded width, higher contrast, and taller x-height; It’s also drawn larger on the body to maintain compatible proportions with the rest of the series. (Drawing glyphs larger on the body means that at the same point size, the forms are larger. Compare below Joanna MT Pro at 12pt. and Joanna Nova at 10pt.) Also note how certain characters are much wider in the Nova.

Joanna MT Pro Italic at 12/12 pt. (left column), Joanna Nova Italic at 10/12 pt. (right column).
Joanna MT Pro Italic at 12/12 pt. (left column), Joanna Nova Italic at 10/12 pt. (right column).

And lastly, let’s look at the new Joanna Sans Nova. As mentioned at the top of the article, it’s an all-new humanist sans that takes its cues from Joanna’s construction and proportions, and undeniably, from Gill’s other work. It’s the tamest of the bunch, useful in that it creates a more static texture the typographer can work with. The face reminds me a lot of the one you’re reading now, FF Yoga Sans, a family that also takes advantage of the unusual but cohesive relationship between Gill Sans and Joanna. Here is Joanna Sans Nova below, paired with Gill Sans Nova for reference.

And here are all of Joanna Sans Nova’s styles:

If you’d like to see parts of the Eric Gill Series in greater detail and mixed together in context, check out Joanna Nova & Gill Sans Nova in Great Pairs.

Buy the Series

Trademark attribution notice
Gill Sans und Joanna are a trademarks of The Monotype Corporation registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain jurisdictions. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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