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Discover the 10 Best Neue Haas Grotesk Alternatives

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Creative Market June 3, 2024 · 4 min read
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Neue Haas Grotesk. That’s quite a mouthful, at least for any non-German speakers. But, even if the name sounds unfamiliar, you’re more than likely to be fully familiar with the font to which it refers. Indeed, Neue Haas Grotesk is simply the original name for Helvetica, one of the most popular and widely used sans serif fonts in existence. Its story begins in 1957, with Swiss type designer Max Miedinger, who was charged by Eduard Hoffmann, the director of the Haus foundry, to create a new sans serif font that could rival the likes of Berthold’s Akzidenz-Grotesk.

They wanted something clean, neat, neutral. Something that was exceptionally easy to read, with a near-endless array of prospective applications. Miedinger got to work, using Akzidenz-Grotesk as his foundation, but also seeking inspiration elsewhere, taking cues from the likes of Schelter-Grotesk and similar fonts.

The result of all his hard work was Neue Haas Grotesk, a font that would go down in history, remaining in use, in some form or another, decades after Miedinger’s passing in 1980. The font enjoyed instant success. Indeed, its creation proved to be a major turning point in the battle between the Haas and Berthold foundries, effectively overtaking Akzidenz Grotesk in many major markets.

Neue Haas Grotesk was also quickly licensed by Linotype for use in hot metal composition and spread across the world. In fact, it was the font’s global spread that led to its name change, in 1960, to Helvetica—which comes from the Latin term for Switzerland. The font was later made available for phototypesetting, and as the digital age dawned, it was licensed for use by major tech brands, such as Apple, Adobe, and Xerox. This led to it becoming one of the major players in digital typesetting, being used on early Macintosh computers and, more recently, in the user interfaces of leading social media sites Instagram and Facebook.

In short, whether you know it as Neue Haas Grotesk or Helvetica, it’s one of the most important sans serifs of all time, inspiring many imitators and alternatives. In this list, we’ll explore some of those alternatives, and look at 10 fonts similar to Neue Haas Grotesk.

10 Alternatives to Neue Haas Grotesk

NF Chimaera

NF Chimaera was created by the experimental type foundry Narrators Studio. They based a large part of the font’s design on Helvetica, seeking to create a Helvetica-like large workhorse family, with flexibility as a primary concern. They succeeded. Embodying the minimalist and brutalist tendencies of grotesque fonts, NF Chimaera works equally both on the page and on the screen. It’s a versatile, universally applicable font, easy to read in any size, offering that seamless, breezy nature of Neue Haas Grotesk, while also bringing its own personality to the table. The full set, available on Creative Market, includes a full set of Latin characters, along with European diacritics.
Starting at$19

II Increments: Sans Serif Font

With Il Increments: Sans Serif Font, Increments Type Factory captures the spirit of classic grotesk types of the past. Its typography is highly structured and rigidly condensed, striking that delicate balance between functionality and emotive expression. Well-suited for use both in printed text and in digital displays, the complete Il Increments set includes 10 different style options, from sleek and slender options like Light to chunky alternatives like Black. Each one is sold individually or as part of a complete bundle through Creative Market.
Starting at$23

Sterling

A recent addition to the Create Market catalog, having only been released in 2023, Studio Few’s Sterling is another excellent sans serif grotesque typeface to consider. Reminiscent of the early grotesques, Sterling is packed full of personality, with tight spacing and tall x-height to promote readability. Its designers successfully married cross-genre concepts from both grotesk and humanist fonts, fusing functionality and character in one powerful package. The full set includes 13 fonts and matching italics.
Starting at$120

Neue Alte Grotesk

A love letter to the grotesk types cast by the famous foundries of the 19th and 20th centuries, Neue alte Grotesk is a typeface that Miedinger himself would surely have been proud of. This typeface wears its influences on its sleeve, taking cues from the work of Berthold, Haas, and even the Giesecke Foundry. Yet, despite looking to the past for inspiration, Neue Alte Grotesk is very much a font of the future. We could easily imagine it in use on a new high-speed subway system in some mega metropolis or as the typeface of choice for a forward-thinking startup. The full set includes 10 styles, which are available to buy separately.
Starting at$15

Arbeit

Named after the German word for “work,” Arbeit is a terrific addition to the larger family of sans serif neo-grotesques. It immediately calls to mind the likes of Microsoft’s Arial, which is itself one of the most famous imitations of Helvetica. Clean, sharp, and stark, this is the kind of font that wouldn’t look out of place in a contemporary art gallery or similar setting but also feels right at home in technical documentation or app interfaces. You’ll find 13 variants of Arbeit in the complete set on Creative Market.
Starting at$40

Pragmatica

Reminiscent of popular fonts like Liberation Sans and Open Sans, Pragmatica manages to be both iterative and fresh, all at once. Designed by the talented quartet of Isabella Chaeva, Manvel Shmavonyan, Alexander Tarbeev and Vladimir Yefimov at ParaType, it was inspired by Helvetica but based on the Encyclopedia-4 type family. The history of this font goes back as far as 1989, but various additions and improvements have been made over the years to bring it up-to-date with modern standards. The result is comprehensively one of the finest and most complete display sans and sans serif font families. Order the full collection of 44 fonts (or smaller bundles to suit your needs) from Fontspring.
Starting at$25

Cern

Cern is a fitting name for this font. It calls to mind the famous research institute of the same name, based in Switzerland. The font itself is an homage to Swiss type heritage, using the likes of Helvetica and Univers, along with other classic Swiss metal types, as its muses. The key difference separating Cern from all of those other fonts is its slightly larger x-height, promoting even easier readability. Flowing and fluid, this is the kind of font you can read for hours without eye strain or fatigue setting in. The full set on Fontspring features 42 fonts in total and 22 weights.
Starting at$20

Acronym

Elegant and playful in equal measure, Acronym brings a fresh twist to the Helvetica formula. Clearly based on the iconic work of Miedinger, this font retains many of the elements that made Helvetica so iconic, but also introduces intriguing deviations to set itself apart as something more than a mere iteration or imitation. The x-height, the descender lengths, and the subtle detail of the letterforms all help to make this one of the most visually impressive Neue Haas Grotesk alternatives of all. You can buy the full family of 20 fonts on Fontspring, including multiple weights and corresponding italics.
Starting at$49

Urania

Designed by Dieter Hofrichter, Urania is another wonderful sans serif typeface that looks to the past and seeks to bring the classics into the modern age. Specifically, it lends elements from Ferdinand Theinhardt’s types from the early 20th century, feeling both familiar and fresh. Working particularly well on small screens and mobile devices, this font may have foundations in the 20th century but is very much a 21st-century innovation. It’s available in 18 styles and has support for over 40 languages.
Starting at$49

Classic Sans

Often described as the “Mother of Sans Typefaces,” Classic Sans is a landmark font from days gone by. It was around 1880 that legendary type designer Ferdinand Theinhardt introduced Classic Sans to the world, originally designing it for the Royal-Prussian Academy of Sciences. It’s a testament to Theinhardt’s forward-thinking vision that Classic Sans is still such a viable and valuable typeface today. From business cards and leaflets to marketing materials and website copy, this font has near-endless applications. Find all 12 Classic Sans fonts on Fontspring.
Starting at$16

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Helvetica Neue Haas Grotesk?

Yes, and no. Helvetic and Neue Haas Grotesk are indeed two names that refer to the same font family. The font began life as Neue Haas Grotesk when it was created by Max Miedinger in the late 1950s. It was renamed Helvetica in 1960 to be more appealing and marketable to an international audience. Over time, the original shapes and forms that Miedinger created as Neue Haas Grotesk have undergone some forced changes to suit the Linotype machine and phototypesetting devices. Thus, typing in Helvetica on an iPhone in 2024, for example, is not the same as printing in the original Neue Haas Grotesk many decades ago.

What are some famous uses of Neue Haas Grotesk and Digital Helvetica?

Neue Haas Grotesk has been used all over the world by brands, transport authorities, government agencies, and more. The U.S. government issues income tax forms in Digital Helvetica, for example, and it’s also used by the European Union in various ways. Various major transport networks, like the Chicago ‘L’ transit system and the Madrid Metro, have also used Helvetica, as well as brands like BMW, GM, Motorola, and Lufthansa.

What is Neue Helvetica?

Neue Helvetica is a reworking of Neue Haas Grotesk, released in 1983. Compared to the original, Neue Helvetica has more structure to the height and width of its letterforms, along with superior legibility and slightly larger spacing between numbers. It was made by the Linotype subsidiary, D. Stempel AG.

What’s the link between Neue Haas Grotesk and Christian Schwartz?

American type designer Christian Schwartz has made a range of typefaces over the years, including for major brands like Volkswagen. In 2010, he released his own version of Neue Haas Grotesk, based on the original metal type settings used way back when the font was first made, before little changes and alterations to its design. Christian Schwartz can therefore be described, in a sense, as a resurrector of the original font.

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