Avant Garde Gothic Alternates Are Back

ITC Avant Garde Gothic’s alts are a trademark of ’60s and ’70s design, but have seen a huge resurgence of late. Maligned by some, sought by many, Herb Lubalin’s logo-turned-typeface has become a go-to font for hipsters and fashion mags the world over. Thanks to our partner, Elsner+Flake, The Avant Garde ligs and alts are now back in digital form. Now you too can combine ‘P’ and ‘R’ in a most unnatural way. Yum.

Here are some more examples of designers who have fallen victim to the charms of the Avant Garde alternates and ligatures:

SystmEdit Magazine by Getty Imageslogo for Dominant
Keith Tam's gallery of old Avant Garde Letraset dry transfer sheetsposter for folk singer Damien Ricealbum cover for Travis

Jürgen Siebert (of FontShop Germany) on Avant Garde »
Alex White on Avant Garde »


By using the new ITC Avant Garde Gothic Pro and its built-in OpenType ligatures and alternates you have a far easier access to a fuller range of extra glyphs.

FontShop’s ACS

But this new release comes with a caveat: the italics are simply slanted obliques, so if proper italics are more important than easy access to alts and ligs, the savvy shopper should still choose the E+F version.


  1. I’m lovin’ all these new Avant Garde alternates. But don’t you think that it is odd setting a book about Kubrick’s archives with it? I mean, didn’t he have a profound obsession with Futura? Yes, I know that the two are similar, and I know that Avant Garde just oozes 70s hipness, but still… I would have spec’d Futura here. Or?

    Posted by Dan Reynolds on Sep. 9, 2005
  2. Are the metrics from these alternate ligatures compatable with ITC’s Avant Garde? Or do have to buy E+F versions to be consistant?

    Posted by Mike Diaz on Sep. 12, 2005
  3. Mike – This Alternate family was designed to be used with the Scangraphic SH version of ITC Avant Garde Gothic, so that’s the only version I can confidently recommend without tweaking.

    Posted by Stephen Coles on Sep. 13, 2005
  4. Thank you so much for the rapid response. I’m glad I asked the question because there is so much disparity amongst foundrys. Take garamond for instance. Everyone make this typeface yet there are all incompatable with each other.

    I’m not rich. So I have to choose the best iterations from the best foundries otherwise I’ll be stuck with collection of bad type that I can’t use.

    While I’m here, I need to say that I find it odd that the most exceptional aspect of the Avant Garde family are the Alternates. Why is it that ITC has neglected this typographic gem? It’s not even on their own website!

    As cited in your graphic examples, the Alternates have a relevance and an edge that other face cannot approach.


    Posted by Mike Diaz on Sep. 16, 2005
  5. I’m looking for a font similar to Avant Garde Gothic, that has a weight between extra light and book. Any ideas?

    Posted by Kate on Feb. 23, 2006
  6. Here are a few ideas, Kate. The Light weights of Futura, Proxima Nova, Avenir, and Futura Maxi.

    Posted by Stephen Coles on Feb. 26, 2006
  7. Now I have a question regarding these. The images uptop in your post, what is the font used along with the alternates? I viewed the complete set of the alternates and the letters don’t look like that. I’m specifically asking about the Dominant and Edge Dark images.

    Posted by Kay on Feb. 12, 2009
  8. Hi Kay. Some of these ligature samples were custom made by the graphic designer, not all come directly from the font.

    Posted by Stephen Coles on Feb. 12, 2009
  9. What is the closest font one can find to Avant that is free?

    Posted by Luke Sewell on Sep. 12, 2009
  10. Century Gothic, but don’t come crying afterwards that it doesn’t look that good. ;)

    Posted by Yves Peters on Sep. 12, 2009
  11. hi, i have this avant garde alternative. i’ve seen the repertoire in FontBook and there are lots of letter combinations like CA, UT, etc. i also see some PR and others but i can’t seem to view all of these letters in photoshop. i tried typing abcde….xyz and changed the font to alternative but the others wont show. can anybody please help? thanks so much in advance

    Posted by Jacky on Apr. 22, 2010
  12. Kate, Superla it’s similar to Futura too and have more weights.

    Posted by Xavier on Jun. 19, 2010

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