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Book Text: Recommended Alternatives

Stephen Coles
Last edited April 29, 2014

For those who would like to venture beyond the old standbys, here are a few text type suggestions. These are new and underused fonts for book design, and indeed any longform text — in print, e-reader, or online.

If you're going through hell, keep walking

Possibly my favorite text face of all time. I rarely get to see it, but whenever I do the text suddenly has more beauty and credence. It suffers from lack of a bold, but its substantial weight and three optical styles more than compensate.

The first sketches for the FF Clifford typeface were done in 1994. These drew inspiration from Alexander Wilson’s Long Primer Roman type,... Read More

Do not spit too loud, thank you

Another good example of the new 21st-century breed of text serifs. Tisa is warmer and friendlier than most, without getting into territory that is too playful. Still serious enough to set sober text.

FF Tisa designed by Mitja Miklav quickly became a new-millennium favorite of graphic designers, in print as well as on the web. Its large... Read More

Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies

One of the few classical Garaldes that saves space (in both the Condensed and core width) without sacrificing elegance. Perhaps a bit too frilly for some content, but much of those details are subdued at text sizes.

Maclean's is a weekly Canadian newsmagazine with a broad editorial mission. A typical issue covers everything from violence on the other... Read More

Do not write on the stalactites

Graceful without pretense. A very complete set, fully stocked with the characters needed for all Latin-based languages.

Courage is grace under pressure

Not so much a face for books as it is news and short texts, but it sets those with efficiency and authority.

From congeals the knife treatment

An unusually large x-height paired with gentle, spare curves.

With the help of Paul van der Laan for kerning, spacing and production, Mike Abbink developed FF Milo Serif as a companion for his FF... Read More

The road to hell wasn’t paved in a day

Straightforward, hardworking, and true — not unlike John Downer himself.

Please handle with cake

Soft and sweet. Don’t miss all the swash extras.

This freezer is out of control

We lost Michael Harvey this year. Honor him with a look at his serif/sans masterpiece.

From alphabets created for book illustrations in the 1970s to lettering created for a book jacket in the 1990s, the Mentor family of... Read More

Everything starts from a dot

Much more than FF Meta with serifs. Retains some of its sans predecessor’s charm, but is slightly more restrained. A capable workhorse in nearly any context.

It was only after seeking the help of fellow type designers Christian Schwartz and Kris Sowersby that Erik Spiekermann was able to... Read More

Beware of geeks bearing formulas

Unabashed chunkiness in the name of small print readability. Underused and under-appreciated.

FF Parable is a versatile text face designed with small text sizes (between 6 and 10 point) in mind, which makes it perfect for... Read More

Tether even a roasted chicken

This elegant 1930s design suffered from the limitations of metal type. Frank Blokland’s digital revival does Van Krimpen justice.

Haarlemmer is a recreation of a never-produced Jan Van Krimpen typeface that goes one step beyond authentic: it shows how he wanted it to... Read More

Do not write on the stalactites

Can’t say it better than Yves Peters: “combines Dutch purposefulness with Latin sensuality”.

Rabbits be cuddly or nutritious

Xavier Dupré’s faces always reveal his lively, slightly quirky touch. This take on the French oldstyle is no exception.

FF Parango is based on a typeface Xavier Dupré designed during his studies at the Scriptorium of Toulouse, a revisiting of past work.... Read More

Tether even a roasted chicken

If you’re thinking about Bodoni for your text, consider this under-appreciated Frutiger face instead. Unlike most Didones, it’s spaced and shaped for smaller type.

Iridium™ was designed by Adrian Frutiger in 1972 for Linotype. It is in the "modern" style like Bodoni or Didot, in that it has the... Read More

Akira Kobayashi
FontFont 1999
Mitja Miklavcic
FontFont 2008
Rod McDonald
Monotype 2003
Veronika Burian and José Scaglione
TypeTogether 2008
Veronika Burian and José Scaglione
Michael Abbink
FontFont 2009
John Downer
Bitstream 1990
Éric de Berranger
Monotype 1999
Michael Harvey
Monotype 2005
Erik Spiekermann, Christian Schwartz, Kris Sowersby, Ralph du Carrois and Botio Nikoltchev
FontFont 2007
Christopher Burke
FontFont 2002
Frank E. Blokland and Jan van Krimpen
Monotype 2002
Eduardo Manso
Emtype Foundry 2005
Xavier Dupré
FontFont 2001
Adrian Frutiger
Linotype 1972