Sans companion for Galliard?

arb's picture

I think I will end up just moving on to another serif typeface, but before I do I am kind of curious, so I'll throw this out there.

I am designing a book of interviews (collected interviews with big-time theorist). I'd wanted to use C+C Galliard but don't want to set the interviewer's questions in Galliard itals for (maybe) obvious reasons. So I started thinking about a companion sans face for the questions, which can run a little long. I'm stumped. Does Galliard simply resist this kind of pairing? I think so but wonder what I might be missing. The closest I've come is Helv Neue. But of course the slant & set of the two itals are so different.

I thought about just choosing a serif with a nice companion sans such as Quadraat, Scala, or Stone. Scala is out--too cute. Quadraat Sans is too calligraphic looking to me, espec. at larger display sizes. Stone & Stone Sans are a little too informal, with a bit too high x-height.

Still playing around with my sample pages for a while, but thought I'd ask. A very simple sans that sets nicely at text size, to contrast but harmonize with the elegance & hooks of Galliard. Crazy?

hrant's picture



speter's picture

I like Galliard Italic.

Are you planning on setting the questions in an upright sans, or italic? If the latter, I wouldn't use Syntax (although upright---albeit not quite!---it would be fine). Some other thoughts: Optima Nova, Stone Sans and Amira.

arb's picture

Oh I love Galliard italic (I think it's got my favorite ampersand ever), but used the way it should be--in running roman text, for emphasis, etc. A block of, say, 15 lines of 9.8/14 x 25p Galliard is just too intense for book reading. Oh and of course by "should be" I do not mean to say it can't be used for display.

I like Syntax but it has a very slight fussy air to it, with that lowercase G, and it's a tad narrow, but I will play with it & see.

Stone Sans I tried & rejected along with Stone Serif--it looked a little informal. The others I don't have but will look at.

The questions will either be set in the serif's italic face (if I give up Galliard & go with something with a less distinctive italic), or a roman sans.

I really appreciate both of your replies. Thanks. I will let you know what I end up with--later today I hope!

charles ellertson's picture

It probably isn't just the "g" in Galliard italic, but if that is it, there is an alternate, quite nice & normal italic "g" with the C&C fonts.

As I see it, the problem with finding a companion sans for Galliard lies in the roman itself. To me, what separates it from, say, the Garamonds, is its sparkle, which comes about from the relationship of the fine to thicker strokes. I don't know of any sans which complements this -- which isn't to say there isn't one out there. You might look through the AAUP show books -- Richard Eckersley used Galliard as his primary font for 10 years or so. That I don't remember any sans he paired it with speaks only to my memory.

hrant's picture



will powers's picture

When faced with this sort of text, I don't often think of finding a sans that echoes the serif face. That way lies far too many sample pages. & as has been noted, Galliard may be a tricky serif to find a sans for. Galliard is Galliard, and there isn't anything quite like it among sans faces for books.

Rather, I think about how much I want the two faces to blend or contrast. & I think about the overall color on the page. I may need to make small adjustments to the size of the sans, and to fiddle with the H&Js to get there. & I use design factors such as indents, space between the elements, etc to help get that color and contrast/blend.

When I get myself moved away from the notion of "companion" faces [and there seems to be some kind of inevitability that makes book designers look for those often elusive faces], then I find the realm of choices becomes much wider.

All that said, I just looked at the shelf and realized I had not used Galliard for a book text in over 7 years. & I'm pretty sure I never paired a sans with it.

Good luck; do keep us posted.


arb's picture

Charles, thanks for reminding me of that alternate "g." But that alone will not solve my problem, which is that the overall hooky-ness, to use a highly technical term, of the itals is just too thorny for this setting. This is a bunch of smart Marxists theorists interviewing the El Supremo Marxist theorist, so something altogether more straightforwatd than Galliard itals is needed. As for a sans, Will, you are right, I HAVE made too many sample pages, but I am actually fairly open to odd combinations that might not be typographically, historically, or categorically "correct." I was just searching for that elusive rightness, and Galliard being what it is (itself, as you noted), I didn't find it. So I am going with my trusty Minion, with Minion itals for the questions, and I'm actually pleased because it looks nice at a very large size on my title page too. Sorry to disappoint the 2 or 3 people who were holding their breath in suspense... Sometimes the right solution is to move on.

PS Amplitude is another new one for me. Thanks Hrant.

will powers's picture

There was a period some years back —when Minion was new—during which we heard comments along the lines of "Minion is the new Bembo" or something like that. This was a tribute to all those attributes that made Bembo [I'm talking about the metal Bembo I was trained on] so suitable for such a variety of texts. At Stinehour Press and other hot-metal shops I worked at we used Bembo for the whole gamut of work: from Homer to Marxism to sappy self-published love poems and all in between. We had other faces—we used Bulmer and Bell a lot—but most of the work was in Bembo. At one point another printer & I began to call it "boring, boring, beautiful Bembo."

That claim made on Minion's behalf may not be holding up these days as we have seen the rise of some more fully articulated type familes, and as our expectations of what a font can yield have changed.

I use "trusty Minion" very little these days, but I am always comforted to remember it is there as a reliable fallback.


charles ellertson's picture

I had a similar reaction to Minion, but it was in comparison to Times Roman, which if you were a photocomp shop, was the use-everywhere font -- except perhaps for those love poems. I still like Times when it is rendered well, esp. the long-descender Times. And I still like Minion.

The "boring" label comes, I think, from designers, not readers. As was pointed out to me rather forcefully last week, I am out of date. What makes for good design now is what other (contemporary) designers think of the work. The token lip service to Warde is gone. Perhaps that is a good thing, but is not in me to abandon what I spent 30 years learning and doing.

toad42's picture

In another thread (, Carl Crossgrove recommended Futura as a sans companion for Galliard.

arb's picture

Toad42, 3 years later I see your post! Obv. I am not on Typophile very often. Interesting idea--I am going to look through my books to see if I ever tried that combo, and if I didn't, I think I will try it. Thanks.

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