Considering Arno Pro. Other suggestions?

winge's picture

There is a fairly wide range of neo-Latin literature from the sixteenth century onwards which today is only available in print in the form of POD facsimiles, often made from scans of questionable quality. In those cases where someone has taken the effort to typeset a (hopefully) proofread OCR text, the state of the typography is often disappointing (not seldom Times New Roman, without hyphenation and with very narrow margins). For a long time I have been contemplating preparing my own editions of a couple of texts that are of particular interest to me, and, even though this would be very much a labour of love, I hope that a carefully edited and typeset text will be of interest to others as well. To this end, I am prepared to invest in a high quality font that would serve me in this project, and also in general in the future: I'm very much an amateur when it comes to design and typesetting, and do not have a large font library at my disposal, if any.

So, I am looking for a general purpose typeface, most probably in a renaissance style. Some features that are essential or that particularly appeal to me are:

  • Carefully designed polytonic Greek: though I suppose this need could theoretically be solved with another, complementing font, I would greatly prefer to have it included.
  • Small caps goes without saying, I suppose. In general, a wide range of OpenType features would be fun to play with, such as archaic ligatures for instance. (I also want old style numerals, but I suppose it would be difficult to find a font that fulfils all other criteria but not that one.)
  • Optical sizes would be awesome (for footnotes especially, but for titles as well, of course).
  • I am very much sympathetic to the sentiments expressed in this thread regarding the weight of body text. In other words, nothing too light, or too thin hairlines.
  • As I am considering using XeTeX or LuaTeX, the font should work well with it.

As you probably guess from the title, I'm strongly considering Arno Pro: elegant and unobtrusive, yet in my opinion edgy and modern in its character compared to, say, Bembo and Adobe Garamond, it fulfils most of my desires. There are a couple of small things that are less than ideal, however:

  • I actively dislike those wide guillemets, and I see that I am not alone.
  • Not sure about the Th ligature; I would prefer a non-connected variant as an alternative. A regular T+h will probably be too wide?
  • Not a deal breaker, but I prefer the inverted breve variant of the Greek circumflex accent. If I have to choose between tilde variants, I prefer them more wavy. Unfortunately, Arno Pro has very straight, flat tilde-shaped Greek circumflexes.

My question to you now is: are there any other, similar typefaces that come to mind, that you think I should consider? Spending hundred of dollars on a typeface is nothing I usually do, and I would hate regretting it later on, so I'm sure you understand my trepidation. Any advice is very welcome!

Stephan Kurz's picture

Interesting project! To me Arno Pro sounds like a good option for the purpose (though I didn't buy it in the end). As for the guillemets: If you go for some TeX variant, you can easily swap them out by redefining those two glyphs (and, btw, how many guillemets are present in your 16th century prints?) – the same goes for combining marks like the circumflexes you mention.
You could also try a few alternatives and typeset a sample page in different text faces before really deciding in which font to invest.
(Most of which is a bit far off from your original question asking for alternatives, which others will be offering…)

nicolacaleffi's picture


Arno looks like a strong candidate for your purpose. A more historically accurate typeface, with the same features (multiple sizes, greek) is Garamond Premier Pro. Also, you should consider Sabon (an evergreen, but no display size and the Greek available as a separate font). Or the more expensive Sabon Next - with a display cut but no Greek set. Finally, I would also consider HFJ Requiem - a superb Renaissance revival with optical sizes (but again no Greek set). Anyway, I don't know how / if these fonts work with XeTeX or LuaTeX. Hope this helps!

Stephan Kurz's picture

Skolar? Not very renaissance, but it covers even a bit more than you need (as an investment in future multiscript typesetting?), and it works well in both in display and body copy sizes (no optical sizes, though).
Concerning Xe(La)TeX and Lua(La)TeX, I guess that’s doable with any current OpenType family. Just beware of encoding issues and UTF-8 support for packages you will need…

R.'s picture

Arno and Garamond Premier Pro are safe bets that you are likely not to feel sorry for choosing. Skolar feels too contemporary for me. Some more typefaces that support polytonic Greek (in order of my personal preference):

Huronia Pro by Ross Mills (Tiro Typeworks; only the ‘Professional’ version, available directly from Tiro, features polytonic Greek)
Brill by John Hudson (make sure to read the EULA)
Minion by Robert Slimbach (Adobe; with optical sizes)
Adobe Text by Robert Slimbach (Adobe)
Gentium Plus by Victor Gaultney (SIL International)
Andron by Andreas Stötzner (SIAS)
Alverata by Gerard Unger (TypeTogether)

You might also want to go through this list at MyFonts to see if there is anything else that suits your needs. Typotheque has some interesting options.

charles ellertson's picture

For a long time I have been contemplating preparing my own editions of a couple of texts that are of particular interest to me, and, even though this would be very much a labour of love, I hope that a carefully edited and typeset text will be of interest to others as well.

I'll get to Arno. If you're going to this trouble, there are things that need considerations first.

You haven't said whether print or digital editions. And if print, whether to be printed on a high-resolution offset press, or a laser printer. I'd include on-demand publishing as laser. (And for text, I know of no "satisfying" laser printing, including on-demand books. YMMV)

OK, if this is for yourself, things get interesting. You can make a pdf version of the texts, optimized to be displayed on a particular devise, e.g., Kindle Fire (approximately a 7-inch diagonal, 22 x 36 pica screen), etc. To be optimal, an iPad would need a slightly different design, as would any of the phones. The good news is that for simple texts -- not many images -- it doesn't take long to reset the text in a slightly different format.

If this is your model, make up some test documents and decide.

As far as I'm concerned, the things that bother one about published fonts on digital devices will vary considerably, depending on how it will be displayed. Some of the new tablets approach 300 dpi resolution, and they'll only get better. The computer monitor, though, remains quite coarse.

I haven't done any testing with Arno on a tablet, but would guess it will work OK. There really is a need to test, though.

Print is different. When Arno first came out, I loved it, and designed several books using the font. These were printed 2,400 dpi using an offset press, on an uncoated sheet. That paper is typical for bookwork that has no art.

I was very disappointed with the result -- though the "very" was in large part due to expectations. Other books by me and other designers confirmed it wasn't just my designs (type size, leading, margins, etc).

In my opinion, the font as published is a bit too heavy when printed on uncoated papers, using current manufacturing technologies. You could make a slightly lighter version of the fonts, a fair amount of work -- the amount the weight needs to be dropped is not much, but there are a lot of characters. Easiest would be to convince Adobe of the problem, as they no doubt have Arno set up as a multiple master, and could make a "direct-to-plate with uncoated paper" weight pretty quickly. The trick would be to convince them this is a big enough market -- printed books -- to be worth the effort.

Good luck with that -- most of Adobe's fonts seem designed for laser printing (normal wight) or a coated sheet offset (medium weight).

If you really want to go to the effort of a private publication, you may have to start with custom fonts. Perhaps some here could comment on cheaper font editing software, hiring a professional to do an entire font family would be very expensive, and you don't need that level of expertise.

BTW, we used Arno for an intermediate-level Greek textbook (not my design), and the author insisted on using the "inverted breve" rather than the "tilde" for the Greek circumflex. Took about an hour to change all the needed characters in roman, italic and bold, including the small cap variants...


Cuboctaedro's picture

First I want to say that I like the idea of your project. Actually I am working on something very similar but for a different time period (19th century science fiction and fantasy). Proofreading OCR texts takes time but I think its worth doing it.

As for the typeface: If you insist on using the same typeface for polytonic Greek then you are practically stuck with Adobe. Arno, Garamond Premier, Minion and Warnock. Frantisek Storm and Type Together have made some great Greek fonts but they do not support polytonic.

Then there is Skolar as already mentioned. I have not used it, it looks great although not historically "correct" for your project.

Here is a list of fonts that support polytonic Greek including some Greek foundries, maybe you can find something more here.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

> If you insist on using the same typeface for polytonic Greek then you are practically stuck with Adobe.

No you are not.

You’re welcome to have a look at Andron. It shall meet most of your requirements, more or less. Optical sizes do exist, althought they are not (yet) released to the public. If you have any questions – contact me.

quadibloc's picture

Even Cambria, which comes with Windows, supports polytonic Greek.

Also, I see that Junicode, intended for medievialists, includes not only extensive Latin support, but also polytonic Greek as well. There's also Gentium and DejaVu Serif.

But some other faces that I thought were alternatives don't work.

The free fonts of the Greek Font Society are Greek-only. TeX Gyre Pagella does not support polytonic Greek.

charles ellertson's picture

The free fonts of the Greek Font Society are Greek-only.

Unless they've changed these in the past year, there is at least minimal Latin support in most GFS fonts. The problem is, since an italic is not a variant in Greek, few of the GFS fonts have both a roman and an italic counterpart. Some do, though.

A second problem is that most GFS revivals of older fonts suffer from the same thin, spindly letterforms you find with most revivals generally, be they Latin or Greek.

Edit: Also if a font license allows, making up the extra characters in 1FXX might be a bit time consuming, but all you really need, as far as new characters go, are a few accents and the YPOGEGRAMMENI -- not at all hard to do.

quadibloc's picture

I had edited my post. The Character Map in Windows showed the GFS fonts with characters for nearly all of Unicode, including Chinese characters, even though it doesn't do this with other fonts. So I thought they were dumped on top of an open-source full-Unicode font.

But with BabelMap, I could see those characters weren't there; as you note, Latin is - but it's usually Helvetica, not matching whatever the Greek typeface is, although there are exceptions. So I should have continued to say that they would be regarded as effectively Greek-only.

I had thought I'd made a worse mistake in my post, confusing Gentium with Cambria.

Té Rowan's picture

The font images at the Greek Font Society website should give an idea of the fonts' coverage.

Nick Shinn's picture

I’ve published a couple of types with Polytonic Greek, in a mid-19th century style.
Greek in a Scotch style has many of the high-contrast qualities of the much-loved “Hapla” (Monotype Greek 90). The Scotch Modern, with its hairlines, is well-suited to the fine details of polytonic accents and breathings.

Scotch Modern
Figgins Sans

charles ellertson's picture

But with BabelMap, I could see those characters weren't there; as you note, Latin is - but it's usually Helvetica, not matching whatever the Greek typeface is,

On the assumption GFS hasn't swapped in Helvetica for the designed Latin over the past couple years, no, whatever you're seeing must be the result of "BabeMap." When present, the Latin characters in GFS fonts are usually drawn in the same style as the Greek.

As Reynir says, look at the samples. If that's not enough, download them and open them with FontLab, FontForge, whatever.

None of this to esp. recommend the fonts. As with most revivals, the quality varies, and varies with different printing methods. But for people using a laser printer, there is some nice stuff here. Even with offset -- For polytonic Greek with several other fonts, I use Olga. Just a little change in size.

quadibloc's picture

Of the three fonts I examined, BabelMap showed two as Greek-only, and one had a Latin face in the same typestyle as the Greek. It was only in Windows' Character Map that the Helvetica appeared in error.

Michel Boyer's picture

The fonts come installed with MacTeX 2013 (which is texlive 2013 for the mac).

I ran a script using the AFDKO command tx to see the glyphs. You can have a look browsing the following folder


Celeste's picture

Sorry to veer from the strictly technical aspects of your question, Johan, but I'm wondering : why does the typeface you'll be using have to be historically relevant to the text matter ? Your version will be done in 2014, why would you want to make it appear like a 16th-century pastiche ?

quadibloc's picture

I'm thinking the preference for Arno Pro over Skolar is not aimed at making a "16th-century pastiche", but merely at making something not jarring to ordinary readers in the present time. There are appropriate circumstances for using a typeface that is ostentatiously contemporary and daringly avant-garde, and there are other circumstances where using something to suit conservative reading tastes is preferable.

However, having said that, Arno Pro is a Jenson revival, and Skolar, while clearly designed with post-2000 styling, is a readable face entirely suitable to general text use. So your point may be more valid than it at first appeared to me.

Carefully reading the original post, it simply said "most probably in a renaissance style". But Arno Pro was acceptable despite being "edgy and modern".

The project is to produce editions of texts from an early period, and so the dignity of a traditional face might seem fitting, just as a more contemporary face might be appropriate to a book with the latest developments in high technology as its topic. Yes, that is clichéd, and Times Roman (or, for that matter, Caledonia or Century Expanded... or Palatino) could serve in both contexts - at least it's to his credit he wishes to avoid that.

If one really wanted to do a 16th-century pastiche, though, Arno Pro would not be suitable; one would need to go with Eusebius or Cloister Oldstyle or Poliphilus... even Bembo is too much of a just plain good text face to achieve a noticeable impression in that direction.

The reason many posters here advise against simply setting everything in Times Roman is because they believe that the choice of typeface matters, that it says something about the text or about one's intent with regard to the medium in which the text is distributed. If that is legitimate, then it is reasonable to go a tiny step further, and say that different typefaces establish different moods, different feelings, different atmospheres - and so it isn't sufficient merely to choose any typeface that is recognized as reputable or showing good taste. Instead, typefaces have associations, and one chooses a typeface with the associations one wishes to have accompany one's subject matter and one's product.

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