Chapter 11: Garamond

Posted on October 28, 2019 | Updated on May 26, 2022

Garamond is the name of a family of fonts that are old-style serif typefaces. It’s an interesting font that has been around for centuries longer than the internet. So this is not technically a modern font, although there have been many adaptations to it through the years. Because of its age, it has an Old-World type feel to it.

Garamond can change its look quite a bit, depending on if you choose a regular font, italics or semibold, and which digital version of the font you work with. Many print designers consider Garamond to be one of the best fonts available, and you will see this font in the print publishing world quite often. This is a font you’ll definitely want to consider for your next project, particularly if it is a printed one. If you’re thinking about using Garamond in your designs, there are a few things you might want to know about this versatile font:


The font is named after a French engraver, Claude Garamond, who lived during the late 1400s and early 1500s. He used old-style serif letter design for his engraving punches. Some of the characteristics of his punches resemble the Garamond typeface, which may be why it was named after him.

For example, the circle on the lowercase letter “e” is quite small and closed. The capital letters resemble Roman square capitals, and the letter “M” has serifs that edge outwards. On some letters, such as the letter “R,” the leg of the letter extends out past the rest of the letter. These characteristics make Garamond easily recognizable and regal-looking in nature. The accents, such as the leg of the “R,” make this font immediately recognizable.

There is some debate as to who actually invented Garamond, but it is often credited to Robert Estienne in 1530, who used a modern-looking Roman font very similar to the Garamond style of today. In 1975, ITC Garamond was released and was meant to be used in text designs. It was in 1989 that Adobe first released Adobe Garamond, which was designed by Robert Slimbach and was a combination of an italic type and Roman Garamond type. Not much has changed with this typeface since that time.

What Does the Font Imply?

The ITC Garamond family features bold weights with four of Roman and italic in normal widths. Its specific features make it stand out from other Garamond fonts, yet they all look similar in nature. The overall style of Garamond is French Renaissance.

This is an ideal font to use when you want to present a regal appearance or give the image of Old-World appeal. The font is quite ornamental, so it is perfect for a formal invitation to a wedding or other special event. Garamond is considered the go-to in old-style serif typefaces. This is a typeface that can look elegant and formal while still being highly readable.

Where It’s Commonly Found and Used

Garamond is most often used in books and printed material. In fact, popular books that are in Garamond typeface include books by Dr. Seuss and the Harry Potter series. Magazines, books and newspapers will often put chapter headings or headlines in some type of this font, but remember, there are many different fonts within this family from which to choose.

What Should It Be Used As?

Garamond can be used for any type of industry you can imagine, but keep in mind how formal or informal your audience is, as Garamond can come across as a bit more formal than, say, Arial font. The combination of the Roman type combined with an italic create a look that is almost script-like, but is easy to read. One place that you should consider a different font than Garamond is in web design. Because there are still some limits in the way fonts are displayed online, it is generally not considered one of the best fonts to use for web copy.

Even font-embedding capabilities with tools such as Google Font API can’t full overcome the limitations of display with this font. Why doesn’t the font work for the web? There are some fonts that are widely available on most computers. Think about the fonts you see most often in documents and design work. These are likely fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman or Verdana.

The problem with using a different font is that the user may not have that font on his or her computer, and thus it will be essentially unreadable. What happens is that the font winds up looking pixelated and boxy, especially if the user doesn’t have Garamond installed. It is best to stick with more standard fonts in design.

Getting Around the Web Use Issue

There is one way you can get around the issue of Garamond not looking great in web designs and copy. You can simply incorporate this gorgeous font into your logo design. When displayed as a graphic, the font will appear the way it does on your design screen. This allows you to still utilize the attitude of the font without running into the usage problems of placing it directly in your copy.

Do you remember Apple’s font from the early 1980s? It used ITC Garamond for its corporate font, making it a bit more narrow than a traditional Garamond font. The font has been popular for so many decades that is has inspired some other font designs. Cormorant was inspired by Garamond, for example. It works best for large-font print items, such as trade show displays or signs.

This particular font is known for high slant accents. Claude Sans also finds its inspiration in Garamond. If you do any type of print design or logo creation work, then this is a font you’ll want to tuck into the back of your mind. When you need to design something that says elegance, you can pull Garamond to the forefront and utilize this amazing and versatile font.  

The Font Series Guide: Introduction
Chapter 1: 15 Google Fonts You Should Be Using
Chapter 2: Times New Roman
Chapter 3: Roboto
Chapter 4: Georgia
Chapter 5: Verdana
Chapter 6: Helvetica
Chapter 7: Comic Sans
Chapter 8: Didot
Chapter 9: Arial
Chapter 10: Tahoma
Chapter 11: Garamond
Chapter 12: Century Gothic
Chapter 13: Brody
Chapter 14: Bromello
Chapter 15: Savoy
Chapter 16: Athene
Chapter 17: Calibri
Chapter 18: Proxima Nova
Chapter 19: Anders
Chapter 20: Monthoers

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.

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