Is Baskerville for text?

bobdigi's picture

Unsure of what the truest Baskerville face is, I've only known of the various digital Baskervilles that I happen to come across in advertising and such. It seems that the common characteristics are wide set letters, high contrast (thicks strokes with almost hairline thin strokes). Knowing what I know about book type (that's not much!), doesn't that make it unfit for long passages of reading? If I never knew of the face before, and saw it for the first time, I would assume it was designed for display sizes, and that doesn't sound right.

snow is nigh's picture

As with many other typefaces, there are different cuts for different sizes.

Storm Type for example offers Baskerville 10 Pro for text

bobdigi's picture

I think what I'm really asking is about the intention of the original Baskerville design — was it for books?

Does that unique Baskerville 10 for text sizes only exist because John Baskerville's design wasn't suited for text?

eliason's picture

Yes, Baskerville's design was for books.

In Baskerville's day, punches for metal type were cut at different sizes, and the designs of the letterforms were altered to make them suitable for those different sizes (lower contrast for smaller point-sizes, for example).

Baskerville 10 as a digital font, thus, is not a correction to Baskerville's design, but rather somewhat of a restoration of the size-specific sensitivity that was standard in metal type and jettisoned in most digital type.

bobdigi's picture

Great, thanks, all!

hrant's picture

Something else to worry about:
There are two strains of Baskerville: the original and what's termed the "Fry's" style, which was a competitor's interpretation of the original. The Fry's tends to lean more heavily towards display usage, although some (like ATF) have made it in proper text sizes/cuts.

And, FWIW my favorite is Fountain's:


quadibloc's picture

My favorite is the plain old original, or Monotype's revival of it. My first-year Physics textbook (Halliday and Resnick) was set in Baskerville, and so I think it is a good text typeface.

It is a bit wide, just as Century Expanded is a bit condensed. But that just affects how one uses it - which size, what leading.

Syndicate content Syndicate content