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.

1 Like