Top 10 serif typefaces

Martin Silvertant's picture


I'm writing a short little "book" called "Essential Typefaces", where I state typefaces I either consider essential or downright beautiful. I have 4 categories: Sans-Serif, Serif, Script and Blackletter. I have 6 typefaces per page, and so right now I'm at the point where I need 2 more serif typefaces to fill the last page.

I have pretty much every typeface in there that I want to have in there. So my question is, could you tell me your personal top 10 (or whatever number) serif typefaces? If I see enough typefaces I didn't put in there yet I will even consider adding another page.

I won't be stating the typefaces I already have because it's too many. That's why I'm asking for a top 10, so there's a bigger chance to see a typeface I don't have in there yet. Also, it needs to be a typeface that is easily available. I'm not looking for typefaces you only find in obscure typography books. I already have too many of those in there...

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Are you picking them based on any criterias?

hrant's picture

Fleischmann's #65. Not yet [properly] digitized (but I could get you a scan).

BTW, what do you have in there already?


Martin Silvertant's picture

I said I wouldn't state the typefaces I have, but on your request I will state 2 serifs of each page I have:
Albertina, Arno Pro, Caecilia, Clarendon, Fleischmann, Haarlemmer, Lexicon, Mrs. Eaves, Proforma, Roos, Thesis, Trinité, Walbaum.

Those are just a few.

As for criteria, I really don't want to state any free typefaces because they're often incomplete. Also, I want to keep fonts that are not well available and fonts still in development very limited. As this document is called "Essential Typefaces" I want to involve the "legendary" typefaces. I think I put in quite a few of those, but probably not all. Furthermore, I want some diversity. That's all the criteria I have. So just state some you like, regardless of whether they're considered original or unique or not.

riccard0's picture

Here's some, in random order, each one I think is interesting for some reason:
Garamond, Plume, Museo, Trajan, Joanna, Cochin.

Martin Silvertant's picture

Garamond, Museo and Trajan are included. Cochin is pretty nice. I will consider it. Thank you for your input.

Panda's picture

I don't know what kind of criteria you are using to select, but I like these.

Goudy Old Style
New Baskerville
Adobe Garamond
Mrs. Eaves

///Gerardo Ruiz Babsia///

Jongseong's picture

I'll just throw in Arnhem, Berling, and Whitman. "Serif typeface" is a really broad category, but I'm guessing you are limiting this to typefaces for the Latin alphabet, widely available as digital fonts today.

Martin Silvertant's picture

As of now, I don't need anymore typefaces. I chose Prelo Slab and Vista Slab as the final two.

As for your suggestions, I have all of those in there except for Berling, Whitman, Goudy and Rockwell. Berling I didn't know, but it's beautiful. I definitely have to add that one. As for the other three, I simply forgot about them. I never liked Rockwell though. But I do think Rockwell is quite essential.

Fournier's picture


  • Jenson (revised by Robert Slimbach)
  • Garamond (revised by Robert Slimbach)
  • Goudy Old Style
  • Le Romain du Roi (revised by Gert Wiescher)
  • Fry's Baskerville
  • Bell
  • Rameau
  • Ambroise
  • Ionic (revised by Adrian Frutiger)
  • Lubalin Graph
  • Martin Silvertant's picture

    Oh no need to name typefaces for me, though you're all welcome to continue this thread. It was an old project I kept expanding until I didn't know what would be the relevance of it anymore, though I learned a lot from the categorization in the process as it took a lot of research in history and styles, so not a complete waste.

    I've never heard of Rameau before but it looks beautiful. Why do you like Lubalin Graph?

    Fournier's picture

    I adore Lubalin Graph because of its delicate design: see the capital G and the capital Q.
    Anyway, I am bias, I admire Herb Lubalin's style.
    It's my favorite slab serif even though I enjoy Ionic.
    I pair Lubalin Graph with Avant Garde Gothic.
    For the record, Rameau takes its roots from Le Romain du Roi and Fleischmann.

    Martin Silvertant's picture

    It reminds me of the 90's which I don't find a good thing but that's probably a personal association which doesn't really have much to do with the typeface. It pairs well with Avant Garde Gothic, but I just don't like the typeface.

    quadibloc's picture

    Well, one could always start with a list of the obvious, with perhaps two slightly self-indulgent entries...

    Times Roman
    Century Expanded

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