Multiple Italics

hrant's picture

What do you guys think of having more than one italics in a typeface? Although this is not a completely original idea, examples are extremely rare, and the two "historical" ones I know of (Bembo and Electra) only had a second italics made after the first one was rejected (with the first one losing all promotion). As for contemporary works, the only one (well, the only *other* one... :-) I know of for a fact is the upcoming Sauna (previously "Sofa") from the increasingly amazing Underware:

Sauna however isn't a full-fledged text face (by Underware's own admission), so a text face with *intentional* multiple italics I have yet to encounter. The only thing I've heard (again, from a friend in Underware) is that Majoor's recent Seria has a second italics (which makes sense because the "main" italics has almost no slant - unorthodox, but I love it), except FontFont does not show it on their site (and I don't know where to look for it).

Anyway, thoughts and examples greatly welcome.


Christian Robertson's picture

More power to them. I say the more the merrier. To take it one step further, why just italics? Italics are a just a traditional way of mixing two writing styles. It would be cool to see more variations within type "families." There have been some recent forrays into serif, and sans versions of faces that are in fact completely different but work very well together (ie scala), but that isn't extraordinarily innovative. In what other ways could type families be expanded?

hrant's picture

> It would be cool to see more variations within type "families."


> In what other ways could type families be expanded?

My "Daam Entity" is one freaky way:


johnbutler's picture

Fairfield has two sets of Italics, plus swash capitals. It's probably my favorite transitional design. One thing I wish more fonts would have is simply a pairing of Roman uppercase with Italic lowercase as seen in Adobe's Poetica IV. It looks
nice in Palatino, though it might not work for
every font.

If you include the swash uppercase characters, you can have six different kinds of italics per weight of Fairfield:

Fairfield Italics

hrant's picture

Wow - great find.
So I guess the first column shows the cursive lc italics, and the second shows [what I might call] the "sober" lc, and each is paired with three kinds of caps: italics (shared?), roman, and swash.

Looking at what MyFonts has*, it seems that the "sober" one might be meant for titling (called "caption"**), and Adobe says*** that it was actually designed in the 90s by Alex Kaczun. And note that the "sober"/caption fonts look bigger on the body than the cursive. So I guess they're not really interchangable in terms of being used with the roman. :-(

BTW, since I started this thread I found a font that comes pretty close to what I'm looking for: Arrow****, by Treacy. But since the second italic was designed as an afterthought (due to customer demand for a clean sloped roman), it's *still* not exactly it...


It's funny that Adobe is now using that term to mean small type.




j_hisekaldma's picture

Regarding further expansion of type families,
there is always Linotype Compatil:

Though maybe not all that special, it's at
least more than just snap-on slab serifs.

And then of course there's always Walker;
that face Matthew Carter made that has
a freakish amount of odd serifs.

hrant's picture

I *love* Compatil!
BTW, there now seems to be another font using that approach:


anonymous's picture

Well, there are a few fonts with alternate swash italics (Adobe Caslon, Adobe Garamond, HTF Hoefler Text, etc.), but I suppose that's not exactly the same thing.

The only others I can think of are Adobe Poetica (

and ITC Zapf Chancery (

Both of these are technically italics anyway, with companion italic ITALICS. (I know. Don't ask me. :) ) I think in both cases, the "italic" forms are best used as alternate italics rather than italic forms of the italic. (Okay -- I'm confusing even myself now....)

Like Majoor's Seria, though, the italic italics are sloped (well, MORE sloped) than the "roman" italics. (I think I need an aspirin....)

David (I think)

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