Favorite book body font

I have a question for Matthew: you’ve never mentioned Caslon, Garamond, Bembo, Dante, etc. in your Practical Typography. Do you have any favorite book body typefaces that you’d recommend? And could you explain your choice?


Aside from the ambiguity of your question—which Caslon? which Garamond? etc.—one deliberate shift I’ve made over time is to highlight more faces by living, working type designers instead of legacy-library fonts. For instance, Bembo will always have an audience, but today, it’s an asset of the private-equity firm that owns Monotype. Verdigris, by contrast, ticks many of the same boxes and actually pays the rent for an independent type designer (and I recommend it as a Palatino alternative). As for Caslon, I learned about Maria Doreuli’s William through a book printed by Erik Spiekermann, but it’s more strongly flavored than, say, Adobe Caslon.

Plus, I don’t want people to use fonts merely because I recommend them! I want people to discover fonts, because that’s part of how you train your eye and your tastes. I recognize not everyone has the time or inclination, hence the “font alternative” pages of my books. But even those are meant to be an on-ramp from the world of fonts you know to the one you don’t yet. (For that reason, my recommendations necessarily lean more toward crowdpleasers. In truth, I like lots of weird fonts, for instance those designed by Muir McNeil.)

Truly, I wish I had more pretexts to use fonts by other people. I find it maddening that you can pick up every book in a bookstore and 80% will use the same three faces.

Though I don’t offer my work through Fontstand, it’s a good place to browse & experiment with new fonts. AFAIK everyone on Fontstand is an independent, living type designer.

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Dear Mathew,

I would like to ask for your opinion on the use of minion 3 medium font as the body text font for legal documents. I’m using it at a 12 point size, line spacing of 1.2 (on MS Word) and under a dark grey colour.

I won’t deny a certain visual fatigue but I can’t seem to find an anternative. Somehow, I feel that I need to rely on some extra thickness in order to evade some apathy.

As a designer, what would be your thoughts on this?

Thanks in advance for your reply,


Carlos Ramires



Dear Mathew,

Thank you for your reply;

Your answer, however, does not disclose if your are to totally “object” to such choice, to the point of starting a riot over it, or if you would just prefer, insist, or suggest on any such other solutions;

I’ve read your paragraph, as far as “minion” usage, but it seams to be more directed to professionals when doing some kind of creative work and not as much to common users when petitioning for court;

Would you please advise?

Thank you, again, for your reply,

Carlos Ramires

I’m afraid I don’t offer individualized typographic critiques.
If Minion is the font you like best—use it!
If you like something else better—use that!

Ok, thank you.