Suggestions for a light, rounded, not too fancy serif face

estienne's picture

I was hoping I could get a bit of advice from you clever people about the choice of typeface for a book I'm working on.

The text, a rather unconventional "autobiography" composed of prose pieces of varying lengths along with some poems, seems to me to need a light serif face, rounded rather than spiky, not too condensed, attractive but not "showy". One typeface that immediately suggested itself was Souvenir: I don't actually think much of it as a face, but like the overall look it gives to a page.

If I had to choose from what we already have, it would probably be between Trump Mediaeval, Perpetua and Bell. None of them is quite right (respectively: too sharp, too small and too irregular-looking), and the versions we have (Bitstream for the first two, plus a Bell that came with the machine) aren't really up to scratch.

My boss isn't too keen on faces that have sharp and/or over-detailed serifs, so that's another limitation.

The book will be four-colour throughout, with plenty of photographs (colour and black and white) mixed in with the text. The paper will therefore be coated and around 120gsm (sorry, I don't know what this is equivalent to in non-metric paper weight). We need the paper to be high-white for the photographs, which isn't ideal for the text, so we're looking into the feasibility of putting a very light creamy tint behind the text and blank parts of the page.

Size-wise, we're thinking 10 to 11 pt (depending on the x-height of the face) on 14pt, but might need to go higher on the leading.

We don't want to break the bank on this, but obviously for a book of this magnitude a couple of hundred pounds/dollars/euros will be a drop in the ocean. I'm keen to use something new rather than a revival, but would also like to be able to use it for other books in the future.

I hope that's enough information to get you going!

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Not light, in that sense, but Dolly by Underware is very warm — more like the opposite of spiky. It's shapes are brushlike and flowing, but it's still a sturdy text typeface. Feijoa by Kris Sowersby might fit your bill?

Quincunx's picture

I agree about Dolly, I have used it regularly for poetry and other books.
It has a very balanced color on a page.
It comes with Roman, Bold, Italic and Smallcaps, and is quite affordable.

kentlew's picture

Dolly will create a color on the page reminiscent of Souvenir (which you mentioned). It's weight and low contrast will hold up well on coated stock (although it might feel a little out of place in that environment, since it feels more natural on a warm, uncoated stock). But Dolly is not "light."

As another alternative for consideration, I might somewhat immodestly suggest Whitman. It is light, somewhat rounded in feeling, and not too fancy.

Whitman shares some characteristics with Trump Mediaeval, but is not as angular or oldstyle in its forms. It has some of the simplicity of Perpetua, but sets a bit larger (not as large as Trump), is not as quirky, and is not nearly as brittle in contrast.

It's moderate contrast keeps it from becoming brittle on coated stock. If the color is a bit too light, then the recently released Semibold is just a tad darker and a suitable alternative for text when a slightly richer color is desired.

You can judge its performance in a variety of sample text settings in several sizes & leadings in my original PDF, downloadable from: www.kentlew.com/WhitmanOverview.html (not updated with latest weights, however).

HTH

-- Kent.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Le Monde Livre by Jean François Porchez reminds me of Souvenir in terms of roundness, but it's more of a newsprint design in my opinion.

Quincunx's picture

> Le Monde Livre by Jean François Porchez reminds me of Souvenir in terms of roundness, but it’s more of a newsprint design in my opinion.

It is a newsprint design? ;)

estienne's picture

Many thanks for these suggestions. No final decisions have been made yet, but I've gone as far as to buy Feijoa (very nice indeed), which looks as if it will suit another book design even if we don't end up using it for the one I originally described.

I'd love to have an excuse to buy Dolly! I've been eyeing that one up for ages. As for Whitman - new to me, but very much to my taste. It reminds me a little of both Joanna and Scala, but I suspect it would work much better as an "uncontentious" text face than either of them. I'm particularly pleased that it has a proper semi-bold weight. It's a little pricey, given the current dollar/sterling exchange rate, but if we ever do a comprehensive redesign of our standard house style, then I think it'll will be very high on my list of possible faces.

Quincunx's picture

> I’d love to have an excuse to buy Dolly!

Isn't the cheapness of it excuse enough? ;)
A 1 user license is only 150 EUR (133 GBP).
And you get a very usable bookface for that.

kentlew's picture

> As for Whitman - new to me, but very much to my taste. It reminds me a little of both Joanna and Scala, but I suspect it would work much better as an “uncontentious” text face than either of them.

That was, in fact, precisely the intention & impetus behind the design. I'm glad you like it.

> It’s a little pricey, given the current dollar/sterling exchange rate,

Even with the dollar as weak as it is? You do realize that Font Bureau has quantity discounts built in to their pricing? For a single-user license, the per-font cost drops from $40 to $35 with four fonts, and again down to $30 for six or more. (This applies regardless of family or style, BTW). (Also, note that the Whitman styles are delivered with both the LF and OsF versions for a single license.)

I can't really compare Whitman to what you paid for Feijoa, since the latter is fully-featured OpenType with pretty extensive character sets. But comparing with the Dolly quote above, you can get the equivalent four styles of Whitman for $140 USD (£92,50 GBP).

Anyway, enough with the hard sell ;-) If you should ever wish to explore further, and if a PDF sample of some of your own text set to your own specifications would be of assistance, contact me directly and I'd be happy to discuss options.

-- Kent.

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