Formal Faces

These typefaces are the kind you would use for the text in books and magazines. They are designed to be readable and rather "transparent" to the reader. Their purpose is not to be noticed, but to convey information without drawing attention to themselves.

These faces almost always come in families that have at least a Roman (straight) and Italic (slanted) version. A true Italic face is not just a digitally slanted version of the Roman, as you find in many cheap font sets. You can tell if you have a true italic by checking certain lower case letters, such as a, e, f, k, w and y that are usually noticeably different in the way that they are formed than just the Roman letter that has been slanted (called "oblique" ). Formal type families usually have at least a Regular (sometimes called "Book") weight, and a darker Bold weight often used for titles, captions, or emphasis. (By the way, I believe it is considered amateurish if emphasis is made by using CAPITAL (upper case) letters, or underlining. The preferred method to emphasize things in formal text is with italics, though there can be reasons to use other methods.) Some typefaces may have many other weights, such as light, medium, semi-bold, black or ultra. These additional weights are used to set the type apart from the main body of the text , often for captions.

Some type families also come with a small caps face (often abbreviated in type catalogs as "SC") that replaces the lower case letters with smaller versions of the upper case letters. When available, this face is preferred in place of using all capital letters for titles and headings.

Often formal typefaces are further divided by stylistic labels based on historical type design resemblances or conventions, such as Old Style, Transitional, Clarendons, Venetians, or Modern. These labels may help the specialist, but I think they mean very little to most people looking at typefaces. Most often text faces are at least grouped into Serif and Sans Serif headings, referring to the use of added strokes (serifs) on the letterforms that help lead the eye along the type as words are read. I have chosen to ignore all these sub-categories in order to use a relatively simple method to identify general type styles.

The numbers (a.k.a. figures, or numerals) in type familes are said to be "lining" when all their baselines (bottoms) are on the same line, or else "ranging" (or "Old Style") when the baselines of the numbers are shifted to increase readability. A typeface with ranging figures will often be listed in type catalogs as "OSF" (meaning Old Style Figures).

Remember, I always have (many) more typefaces than I can show here. If you see something you like in one of these STYLES, I can always send you more examples of that style.

Use the underlined links below to navigate between samples
of the various Styles (just remember

Formal, Artistic, Casual, Elegant, and Strange.

 Formal Typefaces (in alphabetical order)














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Date of this page version: 12-7-00