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Daniel Will-Harris' Favorite Body Text Faces

  • American Typewriter - [like a typewriter, but proportionally spaced-cute and I'm a sucker for cute. {Lou Grant}]
  • Bembo, Aldine 401 - [one of the most subtle, beautiful, elegant body text faces. If you're just starting out with type you probably won't see why it's so special-then you'll hit a plateau and "get" it. Print at >600 dpi]
  • Berkeley Old Style - [modern, friendly, slightly unusual. Doesn't come across as radical...]
  • Bernhard Gothic - [An overlooked, but wonderful sans serif face that belongs among the classics. Here's a great example of some of the best stuff in the field being overshadowed by crap-a.k.a. Helvetica-because of corporate politics.]
  • Bodoni - [Not Bo-dee-nee; is a wonderful face that always looks elegant. People complain it's hard to use, but then, some people are whiners. Print at >600 dpi {Proscuitto}]
  • Caecilia-PNM - [A great slab serif face with real italics. Great for faxing. It's got vigor and intensity and strength. I'm in love with a typeface. Is this sick or just a bit twisted?]
  • Cantoria MT - [Unusual body text face that has a lot of character without being distracting. Has a real period feeling-is it a coincidence that it's the typeface used on the underside of my sofa cushions?]
  • Celestia - [This gorgeous "distressed" - [rough edged] face gives you a letterpressed feeling. It's the kind of typeface that lets you appear traditional to those who want you to look traditional, while you're secretly being chic. Set it at large sizes and it's no secret. {Someone left the Bembo in the rain...}]
  • Centaur-MT, Venetian-301 - [Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, classic face-just don't set it too small. I think I like elegant faces like this because of my secret desire to be Cary Grant. This is the typeface he'd have on his match books. Well, maybe he'd have Huxley Vertical, but anything longer than a few initials and this is what he'd use. I may never be Cary Grant (never say never?), but I can still look like him in print. {3/4 man with just a touch of beast}]
  • Cheltenham - [Don't overlook this charming, easy-to-read, friendly but authoritative face-I like the original version, available from Bitstream, for its old fashioned feel, but the ITC version is also great. The New York Times uses this for headlines (then inexplicably uses Imperial for body text), so the face still carries authority even though it's actually quite cute and, as I said, I'm a sucker for cute.]
  • Electra - [The classic modern body text face-very cool, machine-age, and easy to read. Maybe it's that I grew up reading novels set in Electra, but it looks intellectual to me.]
  • Futura - [Even though it's 50 years older than Helvetica it looks more modern-clean, simple. I love the name, too (even if Ford almost ruined it by putting it on a stinker of a car-of course, they destroyed the name Edsel, too, and that was Henry's own son. Now they're selling a thing called a "Probe," which sounds ominously medical to me). {F U T U R A. It's like something you'd find on an ashtray from the 1939 World's Fair. Neat, huh?}]
  • Galliard ITC - [A beautiful face with justifiably famous italics. {The name alone always reminds me of a galleon, so maybe that's why I find this face so swashbuckling.}]
  • Garamond - [There are more versions of Garamonds than you can shake a stick at (and why you'd want to shake a stick is beyond me). But Garamond is an elegant, invisible face--especially Garamond 3 and Adobe Garamond. {For those who want to believe we're not in the 20th century}]
  • Gill Sans, Humanist-521 [If you've been to London, and you like the Underground, then you have a sentimental attachment to this face (which, I know, isn't the same face but is based on the Underground face). It's friendly. It's an upbeat sans serif that can also look elegant. If I could only have one sans serif face this would be it (though the boldest weights are just plain silly).]
  • Goudy Old Style - [This pretty typeface is at once elegant and friendly, beautiful and official, simple yet baroque. There's just something pleasant about this face. A note about Goudy--he may have said that any man who'd letterspace lowercase would steal sheep--but that was then and this is now. If you're going to justify text (and I find it mostly unnecessary), then you should use letterspacing, also called Microjustification. This puts tiny, almost invisible spaces between the letters, which is obviously preferable to the big, gappy white spaces between words that "traditionalists" seem to prefer. {It's a good thing his last name wasn't "Schmucky"}]
  • Highlander-ITC - [If a typeface can be cuddly, this is it. Here's more cute, and you know, I'm a sucker for cute. Oz Cooper was a great designer of the 20's, and he's inspired many great faces (including several bearing his name such as Cooper, Ozwald, and Oz Handicraft). Though this doesn't bear his name (the story is that ITC had no typefaces that started with an "H" so they asked that this one be--I would have just called it Oz). David Farey did a great job keeping Cooper's quirkiness, yet creating something quirky you can actually use for body text. It's soft and round and fun, but not silly--good at virtually any size. It's kind of a cross between really neat handwriting and typesetting, and it's one of my favorite new faces. {Claes Oldenberg meets Gill Sans}]
  • Joanna - [Surprising slab serif face with unusual italics. Simple, yet distinctive.]
  • Kabel, ITC-Kabel, Cable, Geometric-231 - [Kabel says "deco" in a crisp, unaffected way. The ITC version has a large x-height, the original version looks more authentic.{Tinsel, Glamour, Excitement}]
  • Korinna-ITC - [I love art nouveau-and here's an art nouveau face that doesn't overwhelm, looks great at 300 dpi, and is original from start to finish. Benguiat is like Korinna taken a bit further (or a bit too far) and while beautiful, it can be overwhelming and is often misused. But Korinna is under-used and is a remarkable face you shouldn't overlook. {Potato Latkes, or the Station House Cafe}]
  • Legacy-Serif-ITC - [Elegant new body text face reminiscent of Jensen but with a modern touch, works indescribably well with it's sibling, Legacy Sans. ]
  • Legacy-Sans-ITC - [Elegant sans serif face that stands well on its own, or works brilliantly with Legacy Serif.]
  • Melior, Zapf-Elliptical- [Melior is strong, yet silent. It works well at low-res which means it works great on-screen-if you have it, try it for the normal face in your Web reader.]
  • Myriad - [A very streamlined humanist sans serif. Because it's a Multiple Master, you can get just exactly the weight and width you want, from very light condensed to very black extended. It's great. {Aluminum. Cool. A little dead. But a useful corpse. No, not human, not animal but mineral.}]
  • NicolasCochin - [Quirky, antique, only good for short blocks of text, but distinctive and charming.]
  • Perpetua, Lapidary 333 - [It's delicate, yet strong. Old-fashioned, yet modern. A useful paradox with great italics.]
  • Stemple Schneidler - [Sometimes overbearing in its quirkiness, but delightful.]
  • Serifa - [A modern slab-serif face that's practical-at times even cute, but always readable, even when faxed. {A little bit like machine pieces--fascinatingly mechanical}]
  • Syntax - [A great sans serif face that's modern, classy, distinctive not distracting. Elegant, too.]
  • Tempus - ITC Tempus is a unique and wonderful typeface. Casual, yet with a hint of relaxed formality. It's artistic without being pretentious. Available in both serif and sans serif versions, this face can be used for about a page of next, but not much more, because it's so interesting it could be distracting in a long run.
  • Triplex-serif - [Zuzano Licko's typeface from Emigre was said to be radical just a few years ago. Now it just looks modern and playful and fun-and it's has a nice sans serif partner that matches perfectly. The condensed versions are also beautiful, and useful.]
  • Weiss - [Elegant but not stuffy. Unusual in a subtle way. Understandably luxurious-like old money.]

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  • Copyright 1998 Daniel Will-Harris, www.will-harris.com