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Typeface Review

Arno

Reviewed by Mark Simonson on March 4, 2008

Robert Slimbach has created a tour de force with Arno Pro, a multi-weight, multi-style, multi-optical sized, multi-lingual family of fonts in the classic Venetian tradition.

The original Venetian, Jenson, has a warmth that I like, but it also tends to call attention to itself because of its tilted “e” and other quirks (quirks by modern standards, anyway). Bembo reins in the quirks, but loses the warmth in the process. Arno strikes a comfortable balance between these two extremes. It’s warm and restrained at the same time.

The text size is nicely sturdy. If you look at older books set in metal foundry types, the color is strong. But when the same faces have been digitized, they have often looked spindly and anemic, making them tiring to read. Arno recaptures this good color quality in text and is a pleasure to read.

I especially love having the display cuts. When I started using type back in the ’70s, there were two basic kinds of type: text type and display type. Sure, this was not as good as in the metal type days when every size was cut separately, tailored to a specific size, but it was better than most digital type, which is tailored to only one size. With most book faces, you only get the text cut, which looks awful set large. Arno has cuts for five different sizes, from tiny to extra large. This is not unique to Arno, but uncommon and welcome.

Finally, the swashes. My guilty pleasure is swashes, and Arno has them in spades. In fact, when you enable the Swash Alternates feature, Arno almost becomes a different typeface, especially in the italics. The effect is not unlike Slimbach’s earlier Poetica.

All in all, a wonderful type family. It comes bundled with Adobe Creative Suite 3, and it’s almost worth upgrading just to get Arno.

Mark Simonson of Saint Paul, Minnesota is a former art director and graphic designer who now makes his living designing typefacesseveral of which are Typographica selections.

7 Comments

  1. Chris Rugen says:

    How I missed this in CS3, I’ll never know. Now I’ve got a whole new type family to play with. Thanks for pointing this one out, Mark.

  2. DThompson says:

    A beautiful font and incredibly flexible.
    But one quirk, or so it appears to me:
    The letter spacing for the combination of upper case T and lower case o (and a few other lower case letters) seems too wide. Side bearings on other standard combinations are ok.
    Anyone else see this, or am I imagining it?

  3. Doug Barned says:

    Thanks for the review – I have recently fallen in love with this typeface and its good to learn a little more about it.

  4. BlueStreak says:

    >But one quirk, or so it appears to me…

    That quirk seems to be due to the software used. Here’s a link to the discussion on Typophile regarding this matter:
    http://www.typophile.com/node/48059

  5. M Fernandes says:

    After reading about Arno Pro in typographica, I decided to use it for an art catalogue. And it looks great! The artist is really happy with the design, and she even inquired about the font, because she loves the look of Arno Pro.

  6. I absolutely love Arno. I recently used it for a calendar design – many people asked me what typeface I had used. (You can view it on my AIGA.org profile.)

  7. Namida says:

    Any suggestions about pairing Arno Pro with sans-serif font?

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Typographica is a review of typefaces and type books, with occasional commentary on fonts and typographic design. Edited by Stephen Coles and designed by Chris Hamamoto. Founded in 2002 by Joshua Lurie-Terrell. Relaunched in 2009 by Coles and Hamamoto.

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