This is the first typeface I am reviewing from The Definitive Designer’s Typography bundle that is available from Design Cuts for a limited time. You can find the bundle here.
Magdelin is a sans serif designed by Adam Ladd. I should probably get this bit out of the way. I love Adam Ladd’s designs. I don’t think it’s possible for him to put out a typeface that doesn’t work. Seriously, visit Adam’s website and try to find a clunker. There are none! Plus, if you sign up for his newsletter, he gives you three free fonts (remember, fonts are individual files and typefaces are the entire collection of fonts) that can be used for commercial use. Okay, with my Fangirling over Adam out of the way, let’s get started.
Adam calls this a gothic sans with humanist traits. But what does that mean exactly? If you read Formatting for Print, then you’re familiar with the term grotesque to describe a sans serif. Well a gothic sans is a grotesque sans. I love these sans, they are great work horses and some of them have carried a brand identity through several generations. A humanist sans is more similar to its serif cousin and the strokes have more contrast and don’t look quite as uniform. doesn’t have much in the way of contrast. The strokes are typically even.
But what does all that mean for Magdelin? How can it be both a gothic and a humanist when they should be opposites? Because the letterforms have minor traits or characteristics that are obviously humanistic. Look at the lowercase ‘d’ in the above image. The curved part (or bowl) resembles a humanist lowercase ‘d’. And with the alternative versions, it’s possible to add even more of a humanist flair by using characters with terminals that are slanted or more calligraphic.
In the above image, Magdelin Text is in black and Magdelin Text Alt is in red. The black circles highlight the slanted terminals in the alt version and the orange lines designate the Cap Height.
With the alternate version, the typeface leans more towards casual and gives a small wink towards the retro. The squat lowercase characters also helps with that slight retro feel without pushing the typeface straight into the dated realm. The typeface also comes with stylistic alternatives, so if you’d rather a single-story lowercase ‘a’ or ‘g’, you have that choice.
I think Magdelin, especially the Alternate fonts, would be great for a chapter display and title. If your book leans towards humorous, then Magdelin Alt might be perfect. If your book is more serious, I would leave the alternate version behind and use the regular version. This is also a great typeface for branding purposes and to use for a series title or author name on covers and across all marketing assets.
It’s possible to use the text weight for extended body text, but I would leave that for webpages and newsletters. I’m not a big fan of using sans serifs for body text in print (not even for Large Print editions). Though, for short paragraphs or captions, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Magdelin comes in ten weights (Thin to Black) and two styles (regular and italic). That’s twenty font files for each the regular version and alternate version. With the number of available weights and styles, you can use this typeface across several projects to create a uniform branding experience for a reader without being the exact same.
Overall, Magdelin is a strong sans serif that can carry a brand and act as a workhorse. It doesn’t get lost, but at the same time its voice isn’t so loud as to make it difficult to use with other typefaces. If you don’t have a go-to sans in your type drawer, Magdelin can fill that role for you.