Serif font for thesis is needed, and a sans to go with.

flooce's picture

Hi everybody!

I would need a font for my thesis, I don't need to use Times but the qualifications need to be: "similar" to Times: traditional serif, classic, high legibility.

It is an social science thesis, but it deals with more technical climate issues as well, so it can't be too playful. Italics are a must.

Built-in fonts on Mac OS X:
Baskerville, Hoefler Text, Palatino, Times (&NR), Georgia, Garamond (not as tall as Adobe Garamond or other cuts)

Freeware fonts I like:
Bergamo. Day Roman (italics and bold then in Garamond), Lido, Efont Serif, Gentium, Calluna (+ paying for italics)

Overview table for comparison, rendered by Mac PDF function (Quartz?)

Out of the presented I think I Calluna most, but would it be suitable for a thesis?

  • Which of these fonts provides the best balance between seriousness, legibility and a warmer touch? How does it work in a long printed text?
  • Do you think I should rule out a font with Old Style Figures? I will have a lot of quotes (Harvard System, 1984 p.999) within the text body. I prefer proportional Lining Figures.
  • Which sans (neo-grotestk or humansit) would go with the serif you suggest? I have the system fonts (Helvetica, Geneva, Gill Sans, Futura) and some free ones (Aller, Museo, DejaVu Sans, Quicksand, Fontin, Delicious, Segeo UI – MS Frutiger Copy).

    I would love to use Sabon or Arno, but well... to expensive for me.

    I know this is a somehow tiring question, but I hope for your help anyhow. :)
    Thank you very much for reading and commenting.


  • Frode Bo Helland's picture

    Arno is only $35 per weight, Sabon even less. You don’t need the full family for a thesis.

    Old style figures are designed to be used with running text, lining figures are designed to be used with capitals.

    If you want to pair a sans serif with a serif I suggest having a look at this link.

    Good luck! :)

    Andreas Stötzner's picture

    If some self-promotion may be permitted, have a look at Andron.

    –> Free font(Regular only)

    –> Package purchase (installment plan)
    Don’t wonder this is in German only so far. This kind of business is new.

    flooce's picture

    @ frode
    thanks, maybe I will buy roman and italic sabon after all.

    Danke! Is there a italic version coming up for Andron (paid)?

    Frode Bo Helland's picture

    Throw in some small caps, and you’ve got the tools for most basic text typography. If you have a small budget, there’s a lot of stuff out there at a reasonable price!

    flooce's picture

    Hm... I guess I need to read up on file formats... With OpenType I can make smallcapital, but people here write open type might be no good some times...

    riccard0's picture

    You should try to set at least one page using the typefaces you mention. This would allow you to see if you like the result and also help you to better understand the needs.
    About small caps, old style numerals and other niceties: it greatly depends on which software you're using to set the text.

    flooce's picture

    The software I use is Mellel, a Mac OS X word processor which supports OpenType fonts. So I can make use of the small caps function of OpenType and choose LF or OSF as I please if the font supports this. I prefere LF though, because to the untrained reader it seems to be more usual, especially with references in the text.

    ycherem's picture

    I've also been struggling with the same "problem" here. I had to typeset a thesis about Islam, and chose Arno instead of Sabon. I'm using Xetex, with the KOMA-Script bundle, which is "supposed" to follow Bringhurst's ideas (or does it not?), and with all "niceties" available (oldstyle figures, ligatures). The results are nice, but after some time I stopped using Cronos for titles and changed for Arno for the whole text. The only question that remains is: does Arno match my subject (Islam) after all?

    karinskij's picture

    I think it would be simply beautiful to match the Baskerville with some real nice sans serif.

    flooce's picture

    Gill Sans?

    karinskij's picture

    Yes, or Futura, I find that nicer in heavy weights than Gill Sans (if you're going for some nice contrasts that is). But that's a matter of taste of course.

    Andreas Stötzner's picture

    Is there a italic version coming up for Andron…?

    Of course there is. Have a look here.

    You may contact me off-list for conditions.
    Gruß ins schöne Wien!

    flooce's picture

    Ok, I would like to change discussion a bit towards another direction. Thank you so much for your input here, I think I will look for a first typeface to buy, and since this is a special thing, especially with limited funds, I would be interested in your input.

    I read the "Choosing a font for book design?" thread, so I am aware of the fonts there.

    I would prefer a font which was created for the digital time already in mind... if that plays a role. Something classic looking, easy to ready, serif, but still somehow new, fresh and a bit warm. Serif of course.
    I need a roman and a italic version, and it shouldn't be too expensive.
    OpenType would be good, so I can use the Small Caps function of my Wordeditor program.
    The font would be needed for longer texts, essays, PDFs (and this must be possible with the EULA - sorry MVB Verdigris), basically everything I would write and print or distribute otherwise.

    Are there any suggestions besides what I would consider so far, which is:

  • Sabon – maybe a tad to traditional, but very homogeneous in appearance, my favorite Garamond.
  • Janson Text – looks good, but is it really well digitalized? After W and Y there are big gaps, aren't there?
  • Minon – Really like it, has the right mix of everything, though maybe a bit to narrow?
  • Andron – I like it more than Arno ;) :D Though maybe a tad to classic
  • Eudald News, Edita, Whitman, Farnham – Anybody any experience with it? How do they compare with Minon and Janson? Would be interested in all these rather new fonts.

    Basically I guess I would be looking for something in between Minion and Janson, if that makes sense. I like about Minion that the letters seem all to match very nicely, everything flows into each other, the x-height is somehow right, but it looks a bit to dark maybe and to narrow.
    Janson looks quite nice, somehow it is not a too far strech from Sabon for my eyes (don't know about their tradition), but less old-school. However I feel that with Janson Text the relationship of the space between the letters are not really perfect.

    I hope you see what I would be looking for?
    And any experience with the latter four would be interesting to hear.


  • Jos Buivenga's picture

    Just recieved a book today set in Calluna. I've posted two photo's on Flickr.

    example 1 | example 2 (click "all sizes" for a closer look).

    evanmacdonald's picture

    OOO!! Jos I like it a lot!

    I am really excited to get my hands on all the weights of this typeface. That page has a really nice contrasty color.

    Thanks for the heads up!


    Jos Buivenga's picture

    Thank *you*, Evan!

    flooce's picture

    Congrats to the printed book! I looks really good in print.

    I like Calluna and I think I probably will get the italics and maybe bold anyhow, With Calluna, maybe I am a bit to conservative in regards to the punctuation marks and the q and the p, I guess the "fresh" approach I am looking for in an all-round font is something a tiny bit more "edgy", a tiny bit less "warm".

    @ ycherem:
    I am by far not an expert about the origins of Arno, apart from the buzz-word "Venetian". But I can tell you that Renaissance in Europe was partly triggered due to Arabic/Byzantine influence in Europe with Islamic scholars studying the ancient Greek and Latin philosophers and continental Europeans rediscovered them due to this influence. So maybe Arno is not too off after all ;)

    Jos Buivenga's picture

    Thanks, Florian. Good luck with finding the right type.

    Andreas Stötzner's picture

    Last week I got a 1324-pages volume set in Andron from Oslo. Composed by the fabulous Florian Grammel (Kopenhagen). Damn ;-)
    To view printed pages is always a good idea. Here are some images showing Andron ‘at work’ on paper.

    flooce's picture

    Hi everybody again! Still not decided.

    I came across Cycles from Stone foundry and it looks pretty good to me. Does anybody have this font? I would love to see a picture or pdf of a text (roman and italics, 12pt) to compare it with my fonts. :) If somebody would be so friendly, I would be very happy, maybe from this text here:

    Thank you :)

    flooce's picture

    It is fine, you can forget about my post above, I found a pdf on their site and could get the impression.

    Cycles is perfect for my use I think. I am sorry for all the designers here, Jos and Andreas, I love your fonts, they truly impressed me, I like Andron even more then Arno and I am sure it will find its way to me in some time. And I truly love Calluna, it is a great modern font, a certain future buy. :) Congrats to both of you for your success.

    For my purpose Cycles 11 is a great font and weight, it looks beautiful and is easy to read and well balanced, looks traditional without being too orthodox about its traditions. ;)

    Andreas Stötzner's picture

    I enjoyed this discussion of high commitment very much. It’s the dream of a font designer to come in contact with users who consider the quality of type on that level.

    As a summary, would you care to produce a little comparative specimen, showing Calluna, Andron, Arno, Cycles, ... whatsoever, with the same bit of text at same size?
    Would be a nice conclusion to this thread.

    I wish you success for your thesis!

    Queneau's picture

    A typeface designed for the digital age, serif, very readable and warm (imo) is Georgia, although I don't know how it works on paper. And it's standard on every computer, I think.

    greetings Jeffrey

    ycherem's picture

    @ flooce,

    I hadn't thought about that connection... It just helped me to make up my mind. I had tried Warnock before, there is a book by Hamid Dabashi "Iran, a people interrupted" which looked great on Warnock, but when printed I guess paper and printer I used (average laser + a4 paper) didn't make a good impression. My two other options, Minion and Sabon, though great, didn't look as sharp (if that's the proper typographical term). I was one in love with Sabon, but now it seems rather cozy, too "round", and Minion looks a bit "squared". By contrast, the "coldness" of the sharp and slim forms of Arno, perhaps due to the fact that it was based on handwriting (a mix of Brioso and Minion), somehow makes me remember swords or metalblades, which is great, specially my subject(s).

    flooce's picture

    @ ycherem:
    It is not really established in general knowledge how big the influence of the near&middle east area was during the middle ages for Europe. In math to medicine to philosophy there was a lot of research and a rich culture of literature, while in Europe a lot of knowledge was not lost bot somehow sleeping and it was a lot due to this influence that Europe started off again. No wonder the Renaissance draws on the antique, because this was exactly the knowledge brought back from Byzantine to Europe.

    @ Andres:
    Sound like a good idea, let's see.

    Since you say for you as a type designer it is interesting what the type loving customers think I will tell my criteria in this special search.

    I was mostly comparing the overall look of the textbody and how easy it is to cut through the text. The individual shapes matter in so far, as they contribute to a round and harmonic image of the textbody and are in balance with the other ones and of course as well look somehow nice by themselves. But I didn't inspect any letter close up or anything.

    If anybody is interested in my totally amateurish thoughts on individual fonts:

  • Minion: close to perfect, a bit to narrow, dense, and it could be a bit rounder, but I would like to have this font later. Great to read.
  • Sabon: Totally different from Minion, but as well almost perfect, coming form the other, the softer side. This font made me fall in love with type though and I think is one of the most beautiful fonts and the best Garamond. I am not sure if the spaces between letters is always balanced, maybe SabonNext is better here.
  • Andron: I think it is somehow between (rounder than) Minion and (less traditional maybe... than) Arno and I like it better than Arno. It is less dark, a bit milder, looks very nice and sophisticated, should definitely be a serious consideration. Maybe update the website or make a parallel international one, just focus on the font? I like the sites of Jos and type together a lot. Maybe they are to "pop" for Andron, but I hope this font gains more recognition. A free roman font is a good thing. :)
  • Calluna: I like it a lot, it is sweet and modern, somehow a bit radical and still graceful. I think Jos Buivenga produces good typos like crazy ;)
  • I like as well Baskerville and Hoefler Text, but those coming with mac are for my purposes either to limited (I need OSF and LF) or are not the best cuts for body text, in my personal opinion. A closer look on Whitman and Eudald News might be interesting.
    Alright, so much about it. I an overview table might follow. :)
  • flooce's picture

    Ok, paypal was loaded and charged, so yes, I got my first font ;)

    I made two comparison tables, the first with a list of good serifs I have access too, and every student should be interested in, and the second one with the specimen of Arno from Adobe.

    Baskerville, Cycles, Calluna, Times, Andron and Hoefler

    Arno, Cycles and Andron in comparison. **edited out link**

    a complete Family for 69 $ or some 45€. Now this is a bargain every student should be able to afford ;)

    I have to say though it is impressive what both Calluna and Andron are able to do. Calluna is beautiful as well, not far away actually from Cycles. One thing I notice about Calluna is that the top curves of round small letters (a, b, c, e, g, h, m, n, o, p, r) is very similar and regular, which is even more obvious because of the "direction" Jos put there. This is not a good or bad thing, I don't know, I guess it has two effects: the image of the text becomes more homogenic, but maybe there is less for the eye to hold onto. I don't know, was just an interesting observation for me. Anyhow I think the comparison to Cycles shows that Calluna is a very high quality font. As the comparison Andron/Arno gives a similar results about Andron.

    At least for my unprofessional eye. ;)

    Congrats to the good designers here on the board. I am happy so far, hope others are interested in this thread. :)


    Andreas Stötzner's picture

    (Arno, Cycles and Andron in comparison.)

    Would you mind to change this sample and avoid these false small capitals, please? Though you mention the trick the visual impression is inevitably unfavourable. Especially in a comparison as fancy as this. Danke!

    a complete Family for 69 $ or some 45€. Now this is a bargain every student should be able to afford ;)

    Which family are you refering to?

    flooce's picture

    Sure, no harm done I hope. Well here is the Andron Freefont against the Adobe specimen of Arno and the Cycles font:
    Arno - Andron - Cycles.

    And the 69$ are for the family of Cycles eleven, which consist of roman LF/OSF/SC, italics LF/OSF and semi-bold LF/OSF. Available at the website of Stone Type Foundry. This is a very competitive price if you don't need a stronger bold or bold italics, I can understand that it might raises concern.

    From my side there is not much more to say at this topic. :)

    flooce's picture

    today, a few month later, I found out that there is such a thing as Apple Advanced Typography and Hoefler Text is one of the very few fonts supporting this feature. The only reason why I did not chose Hoefler Text was because of the old style figures it has as default. In Apple Pages one can though activate lining figures for Hoefler Text. So basically if I knew this earlier, I wouldn't need to go that much into the details of typography and different serifs. Well, I am more informed now. On the other hand writing a thesis with Apple Pages is not fun either.

    Fairykiller's picture

    thank you so much for this thread, it helps so much in deciding on a font for my own thesis (on english book illustration between 1866 and 1907).

    I think I am going to use Andron for the main text, I love that it is dark and not too tall. However I would like to use a different sans serif font for the titles. Any suggestions on a font that would go well with Andron? If it had small caps, that would be a plus, though I haven't yet decided as to whether or not I am going to set the titles in SC.

    Thank you so much in advance for your help and suggestions, it's really appreciated.

    riccard0's picture

    @Fairykiller: You should start a proper thread.
    Anyway, to complement Andron, I would have a look at Lapidaria:

    Fairykiller's picture

    Sorry riccard0, you're right. I started a proper thread now.

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