Pairing a HTF Didot

MarcelG's picture


I am looking for a text serif font to pair with HTF Didot. Any suggestion?


Nick Shinn's picture

Why not HTF Didot?
It comes in “optical” sizes.

MarcelG's picture


The problem with the HTF Didot is that it does't looks fine in printed text body. The work is for a printed book, and the cover is designed in this font. But it isn't very readable, I think. Maybe I could pair it with Quadraat. Do you think so?


John Hudson's picture

Take a look at Adobe's Kepler family.

Nick Shinn's picture

It seems you don’t like the look of didone/modern faces in book text.
But if you’re concerned with matching Didot, you need something classic with a bit of finesse.
And it should have a vertical axis.
I would recommend Storm’s Baskerville.

Alternatively, if the Didot is to connote fashion, there’s always Times/Starling.

MarcelG's picture

Thank you!! Well, I have tried two options before:

· HTF Didot for cover, chapter titles, headers and page numbers, and Bembo for body text. Not sure about it. I suppose Adobe's Kepler is in this line.
· Other option I tried was HTF Didot for cover, and FF Quadraat for text inside —Chapter titles, headers, page numbers, etc—.Of course I works, but not sure if there is a hard difference between cover an interiors.

I am going to try Adobe Kepler, Storm's Baskerville and Starling. Thanks!


charles ellertson's picture

For a book printed offset, also take a look at Miller. Hard to find any Walbaum or Didot-based fonts that have been redrawn to print well at text size with current technology. Maybe Kepler will, haven't used it yet.

BTW, If you get Miller, harass (either Carter & Cone or Font Bureau) to include the old-style numbers.

Edit: Not what you asked, but most book designers start by selecting the text font, then finding a display that works with it. This on the assumption that unlike advertising, it is the text that is more important...

MarcelG's picture


The problem is that I must use Didot HTF for the covers, but I can use inside what I want.

And what about mixing HTF Didot and FF Quadraat. ¿Doesn't work?


RasKel's picture


altsan's picture

How about something with a Scotch influence, such as Caledonia or Georgia?

charles ellertson's picture

Miller has a Scotch influence.

Caledonia -- the PostScript/OpenType versions from Linotype anyway -- are much too fine to print well.

I've never tried any Didot with Quadraat -- it doesn't *sound* right, but of course, it is how it looks that counts. Go back to Nick Shinn's post.

Not sure I'd find Storm Baskerville quite thick enough; have not used it. Berthold's Baskerville Book prints well, but all these seem a little stodgy with a Didot... That's the problem with them.

Chris Dean's picture

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Queneau's picture

ITC Bodoni might be a match for Text, as it is not as thin and spiky as most other Bodonis.

Chris Dean's picture

I too have always had difficulties setting body copy in a Didone. Bit of an aside, from day one of my typographic education (c 1992) we were instructed to never use two serifs on a page, save for contexts when one was used for display purposes with extreme differences in size &c compared to to the body copy. I believe this context qualifies as such.

In those days, the traditional pair was Futura. I am personally quite fond of Berthold Futura Serie as it has small caps and old-style figures. It’s pricey, but worth it.

Perhaps you could give Futura shot just to see what it looks like?

Queneau's picture

I guess if the differences in size are big enough, this should be no problem, and Didot and Bodoni are very close, also historically. But yes, a match with a sans might work as well, though I am not sure Futura would work. It is very diffecult to set copy in futura, possible even more than a didone. If you get it right, it looks great, just have a look at one of the books Renner set in Futura medium. But the printing and technology has changed, and I don’t know if futura would look great in offset... Perhaps another geometric sans would work though. Avenir is obviously a candidate, some others have slipped my mind right now...

charles ellertson's picture

I think you can use two serifs on a page if there is a big enough size difference. Like a 30+ point Didot chapter number (as a figure, maybe screened back, whatever) paired with any agreeable serif font for the text.

Unless I'm designing a text for the sciences, I rarely set the subheads in a font different from the text face anymore. Even with the chapter titles, I'll tend to stick to the same typeface, though truth to tell, I (try to) use spacing arrangements to frame the page, not type size or boldface.

There is always a temptation to set the running heads in a different font, to avoid any confusion with a subhead falling at the head of a page, but there are other solutions for that too, and I usually employ them.

A lot of well-designed books are set using one type family only, with any bold coming in only when an author employs it as a textual device.


hrant's picture

In fact when the sizes are different enough (i.e. one for immersive reading and one for deliberative) even the same typeface isn't the same typeface! So using a different one (chosen judiciously) is totally OK.


MarcelG's picture

Well, the fact is that I have to use a serif because is a book on philosophy, so a Berthold Futura Serie for the body could look strange.

As you say the serif has to be really different, and the strategy of the size is there. The problem when you use running heads is that there is the tempation of using a different font, and is very difficult to avoid that.

In my case I have to use an HTF Didot in the covers, but inside I can use whatever I want. My idea was to use the Didot HTF for running heads and page numbers and another serif for body, but as you say, if the HTF Didot font is not much bigger than the body font, maybe will look strange, whatever the serif font used in the body.

Maybe the solution could be a transition in the title page and the index with the HTF Didot and only one serif in the rest of the book: running heads, body and page numbers. All of you said fonts like Kepler, Storm's Baskerville, Caledonia, Georgia and ITC Bodoni. I'll give it a try…

To pair a Didot with a body font is a difficult challenge…


charles ellertson's picture

To pair a Didot with a body font is a difficult challenge…

I've set several books designed by Rich Hendel that do just that.

When he uses it this way, he always uses the Didot large in the interior -- again, as I said, for a chapter number, part number, something "insignificant" textually, but visually there. Always large, 72 points or larger. Usually screened back.

Even for design teachers who insist on a linkage between jacket and interior, that's usually enough.

nicolacaleffi's picture

"only one serif in the rest of the book: running heads, body and page numbers". (and index too, may I add)

That is the way. I don't see any necessity to feature the cover font inside the book; except, if you wish, in the title-page, where you could set the title in the same font used in the cover. Everything else should be set in one typeface only.

As for the fonts mentioned:
- (New) Caledonia doesn't seem to be a great digital revival;
- Kepler is great but probably a hard beast to tame;
- Storm's Baskerville is nice if you want a "retro" look;
- ITC Bodoni could work well if you don't mind having a book set in Bodoni (not the best choice for extended reading, in my opinion);
- Georgia - go with Miller instead (the former was designed for screen reading).

That said, any well done serifs, planned for text settings, and with the appropriate features (old style figures, small caps, superiors) will work for your book. In Europe there's a long XX century tradition of Academic and Humanistic literature (and Philosophy books) set in Garamonds / Renaissance typefaces - you could have a look at some stuff in that lineage.

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