New release: Sanomat Sans

RELEASES | 27 AUGUST 2015
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Sanomat Sans
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Sanomat Sans Text

Sanomat Sans is a geometric sans serif with both display and text variants, originally designed by Vincent Chan and Christian Schwartz for Sami Valtere’s 2013 redesign of Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s most respected national newspaper. A large-format broadsheet since its founding under the name Päivälehti in 1889, the newspaper relaunched in the smaller tabloid format in January 2013. The sharp elegance of Sanomat Sans helped retain the feeling of a quality newspaper in the smaller format, while Sanomat Sans Text is a workhorse, bringing clarity and legibility to smaller sizes. To temper the monotonous texture caused by the many repeating letters in Finnish words, the bowls have a general asymmetry, giving the face a warm tone more typical of a humanist sans. Though Metro by W.A. Dwiggins wasn't a reference for us, it is a clear predecessor in the small genre of organic geometric sans serifs.

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The cover of the Thursday culture section on the right shows the elegant thin weights in use, while the weather map shows the utility of Sanomat Sans Text.
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Spread from the Thursday culture section
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Spread from the Thursday culture section
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Spread from the Thursday culture section

The sharp points on the diagonal characters in the display variant reference the iconic architectural lettering in Helsinki’s main square, close to the newspaper’s offices.

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The weekly magazine Nyt is read by a younger audience.
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The weekly magazine Nyt is read by a younger audience. A recent refresh added Giorgio Sans to the mix.
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The weekly magazine Nyt is read by a younger audience.
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The weekly magazine Nyt is read by a younger audience.
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The weekly magazine Nyt is read by a younger audience.
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The weekly magazine Nyt is read by a younger audience. The alternate k gives a casual atmosphere.
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The monthly magazine Kuukausiliite has a more sophisticated feeling.
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An opening feature spread in Kuukausiliite.
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A second feature spread in Kuukausiliite.
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An opening feature spread in Kuukausiliite.
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An opening feature spread in Kuukausiliite. The heavier weights are also used here.
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An opening feature spread in Kuukausiliite.
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An opening feature spread in Kuukausiliite.
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An opening feature spread in Kuukausiliite.
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The designers sometimes use homemade alternate Ä and Ö forms.

The ten weights of the Sanomat Sans family grew out of the need to express many different personalities in the newspaper’s various offerings: from punchy bold weights, including a Stencil Black drawn by Miguel Reyes, for the younger readership of the weekly magazine Nyt to sophisticated thin weights for the more literary flavor of the culture section on Thursdays and the monthly magazine Kuukausiliite

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Sanomat Sans Text performs well for the dense listings in Nyt.
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Sanomat Sans Text also performs well in many situations on hs.fi
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Sanomat Sans Text also performs well in many situations on hs.fi
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This is an interface for video clips

Based on the elegant forms of Sanomat Sans, Sanomat Sans Text is a true workhorse, designed for captions, sidebars, info graphics, maps, television schedules, as well as the newspaper’s apps and website. Comfortable for extended reading on paper and on screen, this family is also an excellent choice for interface design. This family features seven weights, from Light to Extrabold, all fine-tuned to work well at small sizes both on paper and on screen. The open terminals and simplified forms preserve legibility at all sizes, while idiosyncratic forms like the lowercase g give personality and prevent monotony in reading. Tabular figures allow for use in typesetting intensive data.

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Sanomat Sans Medium without alternates
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Stylistic set 1: simplified K k y
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Stylistic set 2: simplified W
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Stylistic set 3: angled M
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Stylistic set 5: storybook g
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Stylistic set 6: storybook a and g
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Stylistic set 7: t without tail
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Stylistic set 8: alternate l
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Stylistic set 12: storybook g (looks best combined with set 5, storybook g)
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Stylistic set 14: looped k
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Stylistic set 15: blunt points on diagonal characters; shown with sets 2 and 3 applied.
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Sanomat Sans Medium Italic without alternates
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Stylistic set 1: simplified K k y
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Stylistic set 2: simplified W
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Stylistic set 3: angled M
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Stylistic set 4: non-descending J and Q
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Stylistic set 7: t without tail
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Stylistic set 8: alternate l
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Stylistic set 9: cursive e
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Stylistic set 10: double-story a
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Stylistic set 11: cursive a d e f l u
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Stylistic set 12: storybook y
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Stylistic set 13: looped k and ampersand
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Stylistic set 15: blunt points on diagonal characters; shown with sets 2 and 3 applied.

Sanomat Sans has an extensive set of alternates, giving it a chameleon-like ability to change its tone. Helsingin Sanomat needed a lot out of this typeface. Between all of the sections of the newspaper, its magazines, digital editions, and its forays into television and radio, they needed a wide variety of looks, held together by a consistent underlying structure. Rather than adding a slab, a rounded sans, etc., they requested that we find a way to build these different feelings into the sans itself. The alternate sets can also be combined: we calculated over 300,000 possible combinations, but our math must be wrong…

Pointed diagonals like those on the A V and 7 have blunted alternates, allowing for a quieter, less overtly elegant tone; simplified forms for K W M and y, on the other hand, serve to turn up the elegance; non-descending Q and J forms allow tight leading in all caps; and a handful of lowercase alternates make the italic feel much more cursive.

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Sanomat Sans Text without alternates
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Stylistic set 1: simplified K k y
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Stylistic set 3: angled M
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Stylistic set 4: non-descending J and Q
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Stylistic set 5: storybook g in uprights
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Stylistic set 6: storybook g in uprights, tail on a in italics
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Stylistic set 8: alternate l
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Stylistic set 9: cursive e in italics
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Stylistic set 10: double-story a in italics
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Stylistic set 11: cursive a d e f l u in italics

A similarly large set of alternates allow Sanomat Sans Text to be nearly as much of a chameleon as its headline counterpart. 

NEWSPAPERS, PUBLICATIONS, CUSTOM TYPEFACES | 8 JANUARY 2013

3 new families for Helsingin Sanomat

Helsingin Sanomat is Finland's major daily newspaper, with a circulation of around 400,000 on weekdays. A broadsheet since its founding in 1905, the paper made the switch to tabloid format on 8 January 2013. We provided all of the type for the new design: Sanomat, a serif family for headlines in 8 weights; Helsingin, a sans family for display use in 9 weights; Helsingin Text in 6 weights; and a...
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