The Typehead Chronicles: Bembo
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ITC Galliard Pro

ITC Galliard Pro

Identifying Characteristics

  • You can't miss the lowercase italic g. The a and f are also distinctive.
  • The italic joins vary: bhmnr join near the baseline while adgpu join near the x-line
  • splined italic Y
  • relatively long bracketed serifs
  • calligraphic quality to terminals
  • relatively large x-height


Designed by Matthew Carter (b. 1937) and issued by Merganthaler as a phototype font in 1978, Merganthaler passed to rights to ITC in 1981. Galliard, sadly, had to wait until 2006 and the release of ITC Galliard Pro to have old style figs and other essentials added to the character set of its ITC digital version (I think there may be an even more complete version from Carter & Cone, but their website has been inoperative for some time. Carter also designed a companion titling face with the unfortunate name Mantinia).

The face is based on the type of Robert Granjon (ca. 1513-1590); the particular model was said to be Granjon's Ascendonica, but I don't know that face and I'm not sure if that's only for the italics. In any case, Carter says "The object of designing Galliard was to make a serviceable, contemporary, photo-composition typeface based on a strong historical design … not a literal copy of any one of Granjon’s faces – more a reinterpretation of his style.” Unlike many revival faces, Galliard “was produced from scratch rather than working over enlarged photographs of punches or proofs.”

Character and Use

Robert Bringhurst characterizes Galliard as a Mannerist revival — in other words, as a typeface on the Renaissance model to which subtle exaggerations have been added. "Galliard" was a size of type (usually about 9 points) but also an energetic Renaissance dance. To my eye Galliard is a spirited, exuberant face. It has more stroke modulation than most similar faces.

Galliard is said to have a good set of bold weights. (I don't use bold weights with traditional serif faces much.)

Galliard resists being set too tight. Because of the large x-height it should benefit from generous leading.

I'm working on a project now where I'm combining it with a judicious dash of Avenir.

Say What?

"Crisp, formal but energetic"
    — Robert Bringhurst









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