Sans-serif companion to Trajan

abaldoni's picture

I'm looking for a sans-serif companion to Trajan for a photobook-like project of my own.
Trajan will be used for the main title and the "chapters" headers; I'd like to use a sans-serif for the inside text and photo captions.

Any suggestion?


sandrosandro's picture

Documenta Sans, Haarlemer Sans from

Vesta, which is actually sans companion for Capitolium that is quite similar to Trajan with its roman roots.

Nick Shinn's picture

Futura or Kabel, as they have the same simple geometric proportions as the ancient roman letter.
Take your pick of x-height!
The Dutch types suggested have a different feel, with capital character widths somewhat evened out, and a squarishness to the curves.

sandrosandro's picture

Text set in Futura and Kabel? That's a bit risky and also they don't have same pen construction as Trajan.



.00's picture

Text set in Futura and Kabel? That’s a bit risky and also they don’t have same pen construction as Trajan.

This is one of the funnier comments I read on Typophile in a very long time!

Who gives a crap about pen construction. Set Trajan against an number of sans serif fonts of your choosing and pick the one you like the best. It really is as simple as that.

Why do people even post these "what goes with what" threads? Make up your own mind and develop you own typographic sense. Go out on a limb and be creative. Either that or go work in an insurance office.

Antonio Cavedoni's picture

Alessandro (ciao!), you might want to have a look at Stefano Temporin’s Brixia which seems to fit the bill perfectly as a sanserif companion to Trajan. Get in touch with him to see if you can use it in your project.

sandrosandro's picture

Antonio Brixia is pretty good. It looks like it is made on Trajan proportions.

@James: You have some issues with pen construction?



.00's picture

to paraphrase Duke Ellington ... If it looks good, it is good. That's all I'm interested in. Who cares about anything else.

Nick Shinn's picture

Now now James, remember, sweetness and light :-)

.00's picture

Yeah Nick, I know.

But I do think these "what goes with what" threads are the height of laziness and ultimately a cop out (I thought I'd use a 60s term given its the 40th anniversary of Woodstock).

Just because the internet makes it easy to ask the question, does not make it reasonable to answer the question. The whole point of being a typographer is to develop your own sense of style. Your own sense of "what goes with what". It may take a bit of hard work, and it may take some time, but ultimately it is a personal decision, and no amount of internet inquiry is going to give you a real leg up. Hence my response. And ultimately, who give a crap about pen construction or any other theory anyway. Back to the Duke.

nina's picture

The main problem with these questions isn't that they're lazy; more often than not, they're also completely missing the point. Font choices aren't variables to be solved on their own, easily isolated from the total equation that is good design (partly because the latter is actually more than the sum of its parts).
I'm sure there are about ten thousand sans serifs that could be paired with Trajan, and without talking about (a) what that font in question needs to be able to do, exactly, nor (b) what it should communicate and (c) how and (d) two whom, and (e) if it needs to harmonize or contrast with the existing font, to create a hint of tension and be a little bitchy or to sing with it and be beautiful, – and of course (f) what the overall concept & other known factors/constituents of the design in question are, – without all that discussion, it doesn't make all that much sense to look for / suggest fonts that, on the surface, share – what? pen construction? :-\

The beauty of typography and design is the search for the right combination of the right ingredients for all of it to click together. And pen construction isn't gonna be The Easy Formula That Provides A Clickin' Experience Every Time. Nor is anything else for that matter.
Stop trying to do what you think is the correct way to do it, and start playing.

Michael Hernan's picture

Yeah man... Just chop the serifs off.

Nick Shinn's picture

That would be Optima.

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

Okay, how about Garda Titling instead:

You can much more easily mix sans and serifs if you like, and its not the over-used Trajan. Howabout Flama for text?

Mikey :-)

abaldoni's picture

Thanks everyone for the suggestions!

@Antonio: sharing your cooking passion...

Indra Kupferschmid's picture

I do give a crap about pen constructions (and other theories) since they influences the feel/atmosphere of a typeface to a large extent.
That does not mean, that one always has to combine faces with the same construction (the safe way), but that they can guide you to lead the tone of your whole thing into various themes (the playful way). e.f. combine it with a Humanist Sans (constr.#1) with traditionally proportioned caps for a harmonious (maybe yet boring) feel, or a Grotesque face like Akzidenz Grotesk (constr.#2) for a more unusual, severe, stiff, contemporary atmosphere, or a Geometric (constr.#3) like Futura for a more modern (but also unsurprising) look. Of course you are free to try everything in between and beyond.

Furthermore by suggesting directions or groups rather than concrete typefaces, you have a much bigger learning effect and need to figure out your own way in selecting typefaces – to "develop your own sense of style. Your own sense of ‘what goes with what’".

kentlew's picture

@ Nina, James:

I have to cook dinner tonight. Anyone got any ideas of an herb or a spice I could use? I was thinking about sage, or maybe thyme. What does everyone else think?


paragraph's picture

Very sage! And piquant to boot.
: )

nina's picture

Kent :->
I'd say sage and thyme are both overrated. Saffron of course is wonderful… but if that doesn't fit in the budget, I hear curry looks pretty similar too.

.00's picture

Handled properly all you need are fish heads.

Sindre's picture

That's true. Cod's head is a traditional Norwegian delicacy, and probably my favourite dish in the world. A sentiment shared by Edvard Munch.

kentlew's picture

@James: Ah, Doctor Demento . . . Brings back freaky childhood memories.

charles ellertson's picture

So, Kent, how was dinner last night?

* * *

I sort of go along with James on this one. Even further, why pick your display type first? If the text is so unimportant, just skip it.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

@terminaldesign & follow up: Hear, hear!

@moderators: Suggestion to set up a separate department (Dept. of Silly Questions?) so one can skip these.

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

paul d hunt's picture

re: Dept. of Silly Questions

i'm afraid i'd file most threads under this heading, including 90% of those i authored when i first joined typophile years back...

dsb's picture

I am with Paul. This is a blog not a professional journal. Any question that provokes an articulate description of design process and possibly teaches the poster something new is a successful question.

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

There’s lots of crap on Typophile—true—but it’s the learner that needs to use discernment.

I can only say that I have gained more understanding here than other type discussion board.

Mike :-)

unPull's picture

It is amusing to read the content and effort that some will post here in response to simple type questions. Any question is valid. It creates issues, which is good and useful. The most useful content is brief and constructive info -- like the suggestion of Stefano Temporin’s Brixia typeface. With a small amount of diligence I have tracked down his email and contacted him about a design agreement. Meanwhile 'terminaldesign' offered repeated guff. Thanx Antonio

paragraph's picture

Meanwhile ’terminaldesign’ offered repeated guff

Guff, was it?

brief and constructive info

Go read the phone book.

pers0n's picture

"I can only say that I have gained more understanding here than other type discussion board." - SuperUltraFabulous

I've learned more here about design than the designerstalk forum, most people on there are pissy.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

There is a font available called Linea, which may be an option.

I also plan to develop the design towards a family.

Michael Hernan's picture

@Andreas' mention of his Linea and @Nick Shinn's mention of Optima (influenced by Roman Carved Lettering itself) makes me realise that Paul RENNER's Futura - in a real thin weight has a similar structure to that of Roman (Trajan) lettering. The lowercase to uppercase relationship could be considered more of a classical proportion then Optima. Optima's cap height and x-height are relatively close together. The caps for Linea are interesting (like the B) but didn't see the lowercase on the reffered page. Stuff to think about.

If it hasn't been mentioned before – be aware that letterspacing between all capitals and letterspacing between lowercase in sentences are different. This is something that can be easily overlooked when doing a typographic design.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

… didn’t see the lowercase …

Linea don’t has lowercase, for it’s spirit is *Roman* (yes, trajan).
Nor will it have any ever. Not before you screem for it.

Paul Renner’s Futura was designed, on the contrary, in the spirit of geometric modernism.

Michael Hernan's picture

I forgot to add in Kable.

I have just recently become more sensitive to the narrowness of the E and L. I have been playing with how narrow I can make an L before it breaks and no longer looks like an L (perhaps might resemble an I) or no longer has a relationship with the E and F which it seems to have its closest relationship to.

This example shows the capitals. Because we are considering a sans serif companion to Trajan, I would assume that Trajan is being used for titling and the sans serif for the body text, prelims etc.

@Andreas. As you know, Roman letters are very geometric as well as Futura. Roman letters are suggestive of or made up of Circles, Squares and Triangles. However Futura is not as geometric as originally thought the more you look at it in detail. That is why there is a nice balance between the two - they sort of meet half way.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

Roman letters are very geometric …

No the are **NOT*****.
The circles, triangles or squares you like to see in Roman letters are no geometrical objects but graphotypical elements.

Michael Hernan's picture


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