The Typehead Chronicles: Aldus
      Of Thomas Christensen, ABCedminded Typesetter  

homeward bound




Identifying Characteristics

  • Palatino and Aldus are easily identified by the foot serifs on the h, m, and n,
    which extend to the right but not to the left, lending a calligraphic quality to these faces
  • Aldus is narrower than Palatino, and it has a smaller x-height
  • The e has a large counter that does not fill in at small sizes
  • The bowls of the D, P, and R have a slight bulge or pull to the right
  • The s has a thick, almost horizontal midsection


Hermann Zapf designed Aldus in 1953 to complement his popular Palatino, which he considered to be a display face rather than a text face.

Character and Use

Aldus lacks Palatino's elegance; it is more of a workhorse type.

Aldus is legible at small point sizes and low resolution, and it does not require ligatures, so I have used it in documents such as book contracts.

In Shell Game by Jerry Martien and elsewhere I have used Aldus together with Optima, another face by Hermann Zapf. The two have similar letterforms, and they combine well. I feel that the rather repressed Aldus is improved by pairing with Optima, which brings out some of its latent qualities.

Zapf's Michelangelo and Sistina are display choices that should harmonize well.

Robert Bringhurst advises combining Aldus with Palatino Bold if a boldface is needed.





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