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.