Book Typography

April 2018

Book-making has not become any easier, even with centuries of progress since Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible. New technologies have made the process faster but no less challenging. From typesetting to binding, every single step requires the eye of a conceptual artist, the keen attention to detail of an editor, and years of practice to perfect. In the realm of type design, making a great type family for books is as complex as it gets.

Book Typography


Book-making has not become any easier, even with centuries of progress since Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible. New technologies have made the process faster but no less challenging. From typesetting to binding, every single step requires the eye of a conceptual artist, the keen attention to detail of an editor, and years of practice to perfect. In the realm of type design, making a great type family for books is as complex as it gets.

Great book fonts do not scream, draw attention to themselves, or require a multitude of styles to be useful. Since their task is to relay content while creating an enjoyable reading environment, any spectacular and eye-catching lettershapes are more of a hindrance than an advantage in these settings. Text typefaces rely on controlled contrast, pleasant proportions, even texture, and thoughtfully cohesive text setting. Add to these requirements the most subtle sense of personality, and a typeface will have the ability to influence the reader by pleasing the eye and engaging their receptive mind. Find below some remarkable book type families created by 14 masterful type designers.

Our beautifully printed book types catalogue features some of these book typefaces (up through 2016). For this catalogue TypeTogether commissioned four of the finest contemporary book designers to create the interior spreads: Tereza BettinardiVerena GerlachHoracio F. Gorodischer, and Laura Meseguer, along with TypeTogether’s Roxane Gataud, and José Scaglione. Unlike other typical catalogues, the designers have presented the families in an imagined environment unique to their suggestive atmosphere and character. Order a copy for free (pay only shipping) and read more about it in the catalogues section.



By Nicolen van der Keur
Sirba is a friendly, low-contrast serif that’s warm and even in complex settings. It was designed for use in demanding environments such as dictionaries, academic texts, annual reports, novels, and magazines. As such, Sirba includes a full set of IPA symbols for phonetic pronunciation and coverage for Greek and Cyrillic scripts.

Sirba has a classic touch revealed by its beauty in such design details as the asymmetrical bottom serifs, curved bracketing, and terminals with calligraphic undertones. Because of its open counters, large x-height, and short ascenders and descenders, it provides a pleasant reading experience and high legibility even in texts of demanding scope. Furthermore, annual reports and tables benefit from the low cap height and consistent width of the tabular numerals between the weights. With font weights from sparse to stark, Sirba can handle many levels of hierarchy and text differentiation in books.


by Juan Bruce
Juan Bruce’s mature serif family, Noort, is an information architect’s dream. The designer’s complex job of layering information and stylistic design choices can be balanced by Noort’s easily-read nature and analogue details. Noort’s design uses the proven editorial text features of a large x-height, ample spacing, and low contrast to check all the boxes for paragraph text use. But it’s the long serifs, wide characters, and overall typographic presence that make it resilient and ease the task of reading in small point sizes. These details mean Noort is able to demonstrate importance not only with its five pitch-perfect weights, but with its brindled colour within a layout.

Noort is the winner of the second Typeface Publishing Incentive Program by TypeTogether, was recently awarded with the TDC Certificate of Typographic Excellence, and is being expanded with a Bengali companion for multilingual book text.


by Eduardo Berliner
Pollen finds a perfect balance between technical excellence, careful design of letterforms for extended reading, and a measured dose of charm and personality. Pollen’s wide stance, low stroke contrast, long serifs, and relaxed tracking give the face a mix of confidence and gentility at once to perfectly serve the most common typographic needs in book text.


by Alisa Nowak
Eskapade creates new common ground between two unrelated families: an experimental Fraktur and a nimble oldstyle serif. The Eskapade family is the result of Alisa Nowak’s research into Roman and German blackletter forms, mainly Fraktur letters. The idea was to adapt these broken forms into a contemporary family instead of creating a faithful revival of an historical typeface. On one hand, the two normal Eskapade styles were designed for continuous text in books and magazines with good legibility in smaller sizes. On the other hand, the two angled Eskapade Fraktur styles capture the reader’s attention in headlines with its mixture of round and straight forms as seen in ‘e’, ‘g’, and ‘o’. It can also be used for visual identities, logotypes, and packaging.


by Xavier Dupré
Garalda is a charming family that renews a legacy of finesse. Its workaday personality encourages easy long-form reading, but this reinvented Garamond is certainly not basic. As paragraphs on a page, Garalda is committed to the main purpose of the job — easy long-form reading — but setting it in display sizes proves something different. Its simplistic rectangular serifs place Garalda as an humanist slab serif, but with a mix of angles and curves to give the classic shapes a fresh, unorthodox feeling. While almost invisible in paragraph text, these produce a graphic effect in large display work.


by Veronika Burian
Maiola is intended for high-quality printed text and thus handles its dynamic tendencies with care to equalise the important issues of legibility and personality. It was made to handle the strict requirements of books, showing how typefaces can bridge tradition and progression without losing one bit of expressiveness.

Maiola’s expressiveness stems from the handmade feeling of the letterforms. To give the impression that it was etched rather than created digitally, its glyphs have purposeful and subtle irregularities which enhance its dynamic spirit. Hard breaks and sharp angles placed throughout each glyph reinforce the idea of handmade imperfections inherent to the technology of centuries past: strokes and serifs vary slightly in weight and shape; the rising crossbar of the ‘e’ opens the interior space; the foot serifs are asymmetrical in length and diagonally cut; each curve has angles injected; and the serifs along the x-height have diagonal and curved shapes. Together these characteristics have a tangible benefit on the comfort and ease of reading and, though they remain subtle at text sizes, are commanding, pointed, and memorable when used in large headings.


by Tom Grace
Alizé is a three-weight typeface inspired by sweeping 16th century chancery italics. It is a high-contrast face created with syncopations in axes and proportions, and with subtle irregularities which look handmade. These qualities form a lively and delicate weave suitable for setting a single word, a special expression, or a short block of prose.

The low x-height and long ascenders and descenders — features associated with purposefulness, finesse, and luxury — are reminiscent of the Venetian-style italic, but are further emphasised to apply to book settings. Unlike the Venetian italic, however, Alizé has a sharp slope, giving a prominent sweep across the page, similar to its trade winds namesake. Try it in poetry, for reviewing classic works, or as a contextual voice.


by Toshi Omagari
Marco is a lively, humanist textface with a touch of informality. Marco’s strong calligraphic disposition, angled asymmetric baseline serifs, and slightly flared stems lead the reader’s eye up and to the right. This effect propels the reader through sentences and paragraphs and makes it an excellent choice for continuous and intensive reading conditions — think of epic poems and complex plays with myriad characters and emphases. Marco is therefore a mature serif whose lively and somewhat informal style is an ideal counterpart to its careful and ingenious crafting.

 is full of features required for expert book typography, including strong language support in extended LatinCyrillic, and polytonic Greek, lining and oldstyle numerals, fractions, ligatures in excess, stylistic alternates to obtain the best possible solutions, a multitude of swashes in Latin and Cyrillic italic styles, and other typographic niceties.


by José ScaglioneVeronika BurianIrene Vlachou, Tom Grace & Sahar Afshar
Inspired by Britain’s classic literature and created by Veronika Burian and José Scaglione, Athelas prioritises the beauty of fine book printing. It takes full advantage of typographic tranquility — the white space in the margins, between the columns, the lines, the words, and finally, within the characters themselves. Athelas breathes peacefully on the page to usher the reader into the wordsmith’s art.

Athelas is a typeface with open counters, elegant curves, and graceful serifs. Fluid shapes in the roman variants meet their counterpart in a more angular italic, but there are no sharp edges in the entire character set. Athelas also takes advantage of the technical developments made in offset printing. It shows its best side in finely crafted books and high quality printing conditions, or in digital works that place a premium on the tone and beauty of the piece. 

Athelas has a large character set covering most Latin-based languages, as well as monotonic Greek (designed by Irene Vlachou), Cyrillic (designed by Tom Grace), and Arabic (by Sahar Afshar).


by Pilar Cano
Edita is a contemporary book typeface with a soft and warm voice. It is humanist in concept, yet with a contemporary feel where softness and fluidity play a very important role. Edita is intended to be used complementarily in books where text is set together with photographs and other graphic elements. However, it is versatile enough to be used in many other contexts, from novels to promotional material.

Edita’s large character set covers most languages which use Latin script. Its six styles give the designer the ability to work with a wide typographic palette, allowing complex typesetting with several levels of information. This is further enhanced by two optically corrected weights, Edita Small and Small Italic, which have been specifically designed for use in very small type sizes, such as in captions and notes. They differ by having a slightly taller x-height, heavier stems, reduced contrast, and carefully drawn inktraps to ensure legibility at sizes as small as five points. Additionally, their extenders are shorter to save space and allow text to be set with tighter leading.

essay text  

by Stefan Ellmer
Essay Text is an elegant serif typeface by Stefan Ellmer with many stylistic alternates and other typographic niceties. It is a highly legible text face that complements the natural flow of reading. Essay Text is intended for setting books and this is enhanced by a slight slant of the roman, the combination of open and closed apertures, and the amalgamation of organic strokes and counters with a static, fully straight baseline.


by Veronika BurianJosé Scaglione
Karmina is a serif built to withstand the worst printing conditions: low quality papers, high printing speed with web presses, and variations in the ink level of the printing press. Some of Karmina’s most representative features are the rather large serifs intended to work perfectly in small reproduction sizes, the sharpness of the shapes, some calligraphic influences, and the large yet graceful inktraps in the acute connections.

Structurally, Karmina combines a large x-height with relatively compressed letterforms to optimise space-saving. The cumulative result of these features grants Karmina outstanding legibility and economy, and the italic weights capitalise on the inktraps and calligraphic styling to easily set text apart from the roman. Put it to the test; Karmina has yet to be given a challenge it couldn’t handle.


by Veronika Burian, José Scaglione, Irene Vlachou & Vera Evstafieva
In 2014 Google hired TypeTogether to create a custom type family for its Google Play Books application. Technology companies must balance a brandable, unique look with a comfortable reading experience on a wide range of devices and with varying screen resolutions and rendering technologies — not an easy task.

TypeTogether arrived at a hybrid solution, taking inspiration from both Scotch and oldstyle Roman types. The custom typeface, Literata, was created with a more interesting and varied texture than other eBook fonts by means of slanted stress, a less mechanic structure, and varied horizontal proportions.

The unique secondary style is an upright italic that, while uncommon in screen fonts, solves some of the inherent limitations of the square pixel grid. Literata is distinct among screen typefaces, delivers a comfortable read, and now serves as the face of the Google Play Books app.


About Us

TypeTogether is an indie type foundry committed to excellence in type design with a focus on editorial use. Additionally, TypeTogether creates custom type design for corporate use. We invite you to browse our library of retail fonts or contact us to discuss custom type design projects.