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National Geographic map fonts

June 18 2009 | 0 comments

We've been trying for some time to find fonts that might set our cartographic products apart from the mainstream. Obviously, National Geographic Society cartographers use some stunning fonts on their products. Do you have any idea what these fonts are, and whether that are readily available, etc.?

Mapping Center Answer:

You share a widely held opinion of the high quality of the National Geographic Society (NGS) cartographers. The NGS sets a high standard indeed.

The fonts that NGS uses are almost as wide in variety as the scope of their articles. From our research, we understand that they have a custom designed font called NatGeo SemiBold, which they use for the logo and also inside the magazine. Athough the custom font in not available to download, it is based on a more common font: ITC Stone Sans SemiBold (R), published by ITC. It isn't the exact match, but it is a closely related and an available font. Another font that would be close is Times New Roman Condensed (R), a Monotype Imaging font. The imposters we've mentioned can be purchased usually online but you will still have to obtain the proper licensing for publication and distribution use in either case.

The list goes at some length for all the other NGS fonts; internal pages had Adobe's Minion as body text. Titles used Galliard and for headlines and captions they used DIN, and Universe. Some fonts like Galliard, were designed by a British master designer named Matthew Carter -- who after 40 years in the font design business has his own website to explore. 

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