Suggestions for book typeface

capthaddock's picture

I'm doing what in some ways may be my first "real" typographic job - the layout of a 194-page book. I could use some suggestions for typefaces.

Subject: herbal remedies and "high-tech" aromatherapy techniques

My client wants a "modern and high-tech" look, which I will achieve partly through layout and secondary fonts.

Text fonts I'm currently considering include: Scala, Raleigh, Stone, Minion, Apollo

I would consider others, but price may be an issue if a given font is expensive for my client.

Any recommendations or analyses of these fonts' strengths is appreciated.


hrant's picture

Scala is OK, although overused.
Don't use Raleigh or Stone. Please.
Minion is boring (except if you're gonna milk its MM axes).
Apollo is an interesting departure, but too stodgy here.

To me "modern and high-tech" implies a certain honest, rigid feel, so I would go with a wedge serif design, like FF Zine, Foundry Form Serif or FF Olson. If your text will be smallish, consider Swift as well.


capthaddock's picture

I love Avance and I like Olsen. I don't own either font, so I'd have to buy them, and the Olsen package doesn't come with an italic (I'd have to buy the $130 Olsen Italic package just for the one font).

Hrant, why don't you like Raleigh or Stone?


peterbruhn's picture

If you are going to buy a font, I would suggest Proforma
( ).
The Medium looks very nice in texts. It's not that expensive either.


hrant's picture

> why don't you like Raleigh or Stone?

Too mushy. Releigh is like an equestrian polo player, and those pulpy terminals on Stone's "a"/"r"/"f" make me queasy. As for Avance, you guys know I love it, but maybe it's too "congenial" here? Proforma is great too, just maybe a bit high-brow here.


John Hudson's picture


hrant's picture

I admire Meridien, but I think it's too old-school for this job - its serifs are wedge, but too sharp - plus I think it's too lyrical to be modern.

As for the nice combo Stephen mentions (sans Trajan, though), the secret third component -for any heavy text- is Kepler.


capthaddock's picture

How about Utopia?

hrant's picture

Utopia in fact seems good here. Sober and readable, plus a good complement of styles.


kentlew's picture

I have to point out that this sort of thing is a little like going on-line and saying "I have a fever, my throat is sore, and I have small rashes on my skin. What would you guys recommend that I take for it?" Beware any diagnosis over the internet.

Obviously, there's a lot more to choosing a book face than just what looks interesting. And without a lot more details about the book brief ('modern and high-tech' are very vague terms and could mean a lot of different things to different people, including your client, these suggestions are only stabs in the dark.

Nevertheless, let me offer my two cents' worth:

Scala has turned out to be a decent face in books. It's spareness gives a character that many would characterize as contemporary. As Hrant points out, the downside is that it is a bit heavily exposed right now -- but that's not really a primary consideration in book text. I have found it tricky to pair a good display with it because of it's idiosyncracies. And although I've considered it for a couple jobs before, I've yet to actually decide to use it.

Stone and Minion are both solid workhorses. I've used both with success. (I just finished a book with Stone). But I suspect neither is unique enough to give the character that your client seems to be requesting.

Apollo is a good text face, although I find setting it requires a little more care in handling. Utopia and Kepler both set well right out of the box. Although all three are more unique, uncommon choices, I don't think any of these are going to give the character you want. I think they're all a little too soft and classical in feeling for what you're describing. Apollo feels very oldstyle and usually gives a delicate text. Utopia yields a fairly dark setting and seems a bit too squarish for what I think you might be after -- it seems better suited to manuals and textbooks than trade books. Kepler is a nice readable Didone, being a more jovial take on the class, but I don't think it is sharp enough to convey "modern, high-tech" (whatever that actually means).

I haven't worked with Avance or the other FF faces mentioned, so I can't speak from direct experience. I think Avance might make a nice text, but it does seem a little congenial for your title. I don't think I could advise either Olsen or Zine as book faces. Olsen is very monotone and the x-height seems too large for extended text; I'm sure it's a fine 'jobbing' face. Zine looks interesting, but I only see a Display cut, which is too narrow for book text in my opinion. (I hope Sch

Bald Condensed's picture

Wise words from Mr. Lew.

Just don't use ITC Stone :-) I agree with Hrant, there's something really fishy with those pulpy terminals. I designed a book last year and ITC Stone was forced upon me by the corporate style manual. And to top it all off, I had to use Helvetica for headlines! Me, using ITC Stone AND Helvetica on the same job! Argh... (The book was a success though. Oh, the irony of it all.)

capthaddock's picture

Terrific advice, all.


John Nolan's picture

I just used Warnock Pro for an E-book. The text required a face with lots of resources, including Greek, so my choices were limited. I wasn't sure what I thought of Warnock before, but I found it very good to work with.

jfp's picture

Instead a Dutch, French, or whatsoever, try a Canadian typeface. Be proud of Canadian type designers!

Nick Shinn, John Hudson are first names who came to me.

jfp's picture

>Text fonts I'm currently considering include: Scala, Raleigh, Stone, Minion, Apollo

>I would consider others, but price may be an issue if a given font is expensive for my client.

If I need to make a choice in your list, I will remove these four, more than select one:

Scala (I prefer Joanna, the letterforms design is better)
Raleigh (strange idea?)
Stone (eighties ideal)
Minion (too calligraphic)

capthaddock's picture

M'sieur Porchez: Yes, maybe I should consider a Canadian face. That's one reason I considered Raleigh in the first place.

I don't think any of Hudson's faces would work for this project.

As for Shinn's work (, I would consider Goodchild or Beaufort, but I don't know what either looks like in text blocks. Too bad his quirky Richler isn't for sale.

Maybe I should use Cartier, my favourite Canadian typeface.


keith_tam's picture

Yes, Cartier!

plainclothes's picture

admitting it's a bit more classical, why not
consider Seria in place of Scala. it was
designed specifically to correct aspects of
Scala that were less effective in extended
text settings. Hrant will likely take issue with
its nearly upright italic, but I understand a
more slanted version is in the works
(besides, it works just fine as it is, IMO).

gulliver's picture

I realize that this suggestion probably comes too late to help you on this project, but give some consideration to Mendoza Roman as well. Use Linotype's version -- it's more complete, and includes small caps and old-style figures.

It's an elegant font that has a nice, clean look.

And it's French, which is sort of like Canadian. ;) (And yes, I love French Fries and French Toast, thank you very much, U.S. Congress notwithstanding. :-) )


gulliver's picture

((Gods, I hope I didn't just piss off three countries... :D ))


aquatoad's picture

David, Mendoza is a gem. My only complaint is the lc g.
Particularly good looking italics in my opinion.
This would do well to go in the UNDERused list.


Stephen Coles's picture

I am a wedge lover like Hrant. Though I wouldn't bother with
Form Serif, there's something wrong with it that I haven't
pinned down yet. Try FF Avance too.

Stephen Coles's picture

Think I figured it out. I dislike the lighter weights of
Form Serif for the same reasons why I dislike those of
Berthold's Corporate A. It's just too delicate and
mechanical at the same time.

And the heavier weights look like they were interpolated
by some unhuman font-o-matic machine.

If Stone is too mushy, Form Serif is too cold.

Stephen Coles's picture

Meridien + Trajan or Vendome for titling.

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