by Emily McNally


Massimo Vignelli (1931–2014) is widely regarded as one of the greatest designers of all time. A minimalist at heart, Vignelli was known for working with a small collection of typefaces and is quoted as having said: “I don’t think that type should be expressive at all. I can write the word ‘dog’ with any typeface and it doesn’t have to look like a dog. But there are people that [think that] when they write ‘dog’ it should bark.”

In 2010, Vignelli published a short book summarizing his design methodology called The Vignelli Canon, in which he explains his philosophy on type:

“I still believe that most typefaces are designed for commercial reasons, just to make money or for identity purposes. In reality the number of good typefaces is rather limited and most of the new ones are elaborations on pre-existing faces. Personally, I can get along well with a half a dozen, to which I can add another half a dozen, but probably no more.”

Below are the only typefaces a designer needs, according to Vignelli: Garamond, Bodoni, Century Expanded, Futura, Times New Roman, and Helvetica.


What’s your preference when it comes to typeface? Do you enjoy working with a large selection or limited one?

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