Chapter 15: Savoy

Posted on April 1, 2020 | Updated on September 12, 2023

Savoy font is part of the serif font family. A serif font has extra flourishes that make it look vintage and give it a more formal feel. Some might argue that Savoy is a calligraphy font but it is more of a hybrid. 

Savoy isn’t as commonly used as some of the other fonts in this series, but is well-known enough to receive a nod. You’ve likely heard of Savoy and come across it a time or two in your design work, especially if you’ve worked with posters or invitations.

Origin

The design dates back to the 1990s, when designer Anthony Nash created Savoy for the Classic Font Co. Nash hails from the United Kingdom and has worked at reviving pen-drawn lettering into digital typefaces for a new generation. He’s created 14 different font families for his company, including:

  • Tuscany
  • Copper
  • Kells
  • Versals
  • Classic
  • Amadeus
  • El Cid
  • Theodore

Each of the fonts he created has a distinctive, hand-lettered look. Hand-penned fonts are popular for when brands want to give a design a unique look that grabs attention. They add a flourish you won’t get from sans-serif fonts. The attention to detail is unparalleled and provides the font with a custom look.

However, the cost is minimal compared to actually hiring a graphic artist to draw a unique font. It’s as close as you’ll come to a hand-drawn wordmark look without taking out a pen or pencil to paper and writing one yourself. Nash is a master at hand-lettered fonts with a unique look and feel. The entire original Savoy family looks like something out of a storybook.

Savoy font also has a more modernized look in the release by Fontsite Inc. The more modern font keeps the serifs and drops some of the calligraphy embellishments. Losing the decorations gives the font an entirely different feel and opens up the possibilities for where it can work. 

Choosing different variations in the same font family can give your designs a fresh appearance. You could even use both styles of Savoy in the same document to provide it with some differentiation in style. Their variations are minor enough that they aren’t very noticeable but they can impact the design as a whole. 

Each variation of Savoy font has a different use, but both have value and similar spacing and serifs. For a more traditional look, go with the original font. For a more modern look, stick with the Fontsite version. Or, use the traditional Savoy for headlines and some flourish and utilize the modern version for subheadings or body text.

The Mechanics of Savoy Font

The Savoy font allows for decorated frames. You can also overlay text with a different color and create dual-toned text for a more intense look that utilizes your brand’s color palette. You can create these decorated frames for titles and monograms. Imagine a beautiful wordmark with a gradient showcasing your brand color palette.

The traditional rendering of Savoy font has a wide width and short height that makes the letters look a bit stocky. The embellishments take up even more space, so the kerning between letters is wider than in some less script-based fonts. The lettering appears thick and bold, even before applying bold. Nash’s version of the font supports 21 different languages. Some alternatives to Savoy would be XYLO Script, Saddlery, and Rodeo Roundup. Even though the original

Because of the width of the Savoy font, it may not work well for mobile devices. Consider a different font for smaller screens. The letters either scrunch together and become less decipherable, or the text drops to a second line and loses its power.

Savoy font label is technically serif, it is arguably a decorative one with all the potential embellishments and overlays. In the more modern version of Savoy, the x-height of the letters is taller, but the width and kerning remain similar. The embellishments go away, and the letters become straighter, taking on a more straightforward look for digital usage. Fonts similar to Fontsite’s Savoy include Erato, Adobe, and Ashbury.

What Does the Font Imply?

Savoy font implies a mid-19th-century message. It has a vintage look and feel that is more Victorian than Art Deco. It is meant to resemble hand-lettered calligraphy, giving it an artistic appeal as well. The look of text from yesteryear gives it an elegant and romantic appeal.

Savoy font falls more into the humanist serif typeface category because it mimics classical calligraphy. The small x-height also resembles typography. In modern usages, such as magazines, the embellishments of the first capitalized letter drop away, but the serifs remain, creating a more traditional serif font similar to Garamond.

The level of romance or class your design gives off depends on whether you incorporate the traditional or modern version into your work. Still, the adaptability of the font implies it can be vintage and modern at the same time, allowing designers to give a nod to yesteryear without letting it take over the entire design.

Where It’s Commonly Found and Used

Magazines and books often feature the Savoy font for headlines or the first letter of a chapter. Although the font does occasionally appear in other uses and on websites, it isn’t as commonly used for those purposes. 

Vogue magazine often uses the modern Savoy typeface in headings, subheadings, and even body copy, although they go with a less ornate representation than is typically used. The serifs in the font create a contrast with the rest of the page and make the type easy to read on nearly any size device.

If you’re looking for a calligraphy-style font but aren’t quite sold on Savoy, you might also want to consider Zapfino Extra, Park Avenue Script, or Pompeian. Pacific Script has a similar height and Synthetica may be even taller thanks to the lengthy lowercase “Y.”

Is Savoy a Good Font?

Although Savoy isn’t as popular as fonts like Helvetica or Comic Sans, it still has its place in the design world and is unique enough to be easily recognizable. Similar to Comic Sans, though, people have a love/hate relationship with the fancy font with the extra embellishments. 

Some people believe a serif font is easier to read in the body of a document than a sans-serif font, while others disagree. It’s subjective because other factors can affect the readability of text. Still, the height of Savoy gives some people fits with spacing.

A serif has the little marks that show up better on some screens. However, it can create a more dated look than a modern sans serif font. Knowing when to use a serif versus sans serif font requires experience and attention to detail. You must understand the tone of the work to choose the right one. Each font has a unique personality, and Savoy font is no different, with its extra strokes and vintage appearance.

Because Savoy does have a lot of embellishments, it works best for headlines and logos rather than body text. However, there is also a more modern rendering of the Savoy font, which we’ll discuss below. The options you choose within the font family also make a difference. Since the font already has a lot of flourishes, you may want to avoid italics, for example.

Examples of Savoy in Use

Surprisingly, a search on Font Reach turned up no instances of Savoy being on a website. That doesn’t mean that people don’t use it, though. It could still be in a site’s CSS code. However, it seems to be much more popular offline than online. 

The traditional version can be tricky to read on-screen, so elegant print designs are likely just a more popular choice. Even though there aren’t any readily accessible website examples, we did locate a couple of examples at Fontspring of how this gorgeous font might look.

Source: https://www.fontspring.com/fonts/fontsite/savoy
Screenshot of examples on Fontspring

These images are the modern serif version of Nash’s calligraphy style. Instead of the font looking like it belongs as the first letter in a fairytale book, it seems professional. The minor, strategic embellishments are a far cry from the overly complex original appearance.

Are There Variations of Savoy?

Both the traditional and modern versions of Savoy have three additional variations. The first comes with Plan and Overlay if you want elegance without the excess embellishments. Savoy Etched is just like the original except for its white highlights. The frame version is abstract and has only stylized squares.

The newer version of Savoy has Roman, italic, bold, and caps. If you like the original’s style but want something more bold or professional, consider using one of the modern ones instead. They have a lot of its charm without its complexity, making them ideal for on-screen designs.

Here, we took screenshots of the flexibility of Savoy. Check out the different options within the font family. Simply choosing italics shifts the entire tone of the text and gives you additional personality. Which one is best for your next design project? Don’t be afraid to pair more than one style.

A basic, serif-based font
savoy font in italic
Note how the serifs become flourishes in italics
Savoy Bold features both serifs and flourishes for a soft but more modern look
Note the varied heights between the first letter of a word and the other letters.

You can also do combinations, such as Savoy Caps in bold or italics combined with bold. Most of the different kinds look very similar, so they work well together. The font family is extremely versatile and often used in magazines and invitations.

How to Pair Savoy With Other Fonts

If you want to use Savoy for a headline or a subheading, you might wonder what other fonts go well with this one. One option is Helvetica. Because they have a similar height, they pair well together. You could also take the example of Vogue and pair Savoy serif with the sans serif Franklin Gothic. 

The juxtaposition of the two opposite font types work well together and add some interest to a design. There are also some alternatives you can use if Savoy isn’t quite what you’re looking for. Similar fonts include:

  • Erato
  • Adobe Caslon
  • Arno Pro
  • English Serif

These fonts look good side-by-side with Savoy font. You also might want to overlay layers of Savoy with one just a touch larger than the other to add dimension to the project. Use similar colors, contrasting tones and shadowing. Play around with the design until you get just the look you want. 

If you need a more uniform look, go with another serif font. If you want to add interest and layers to your design, try pairing Savoy with a sans serif font. The eye will naturally go to the larger text, so if you want to highlight Savoy, use it in the headlines.

What Should It Be Used As?

The traditional form of Savoy can be used for a drop capped letter in books or formal invitations, such as for weddings. The embellished version works well for monograms and initials for a brand logo. Nash’s version of the font works well anywhere calligraphy might be used in a design. The result is something that looks as though you spent hours drawing it by hand.

However, it will take you a fraction of the time, since you’ll use a digital font. The original has a formal tone that is perfect for a formal invitation or a business with traditional values. It works well for weddings and party invitations. Since it’s more ornamental than practical, you could also use it sparingly as an embellishment. For instance, you could put one letter at the beginning of a body of text or use it as a header online.

On the other hand, the modern interpretation of Savoy has many more uses. Although less like calligraphy, the serifs still give the font a traditional feel that is modern but not ultramodern. Some options for using Fontsite’s version of the font include as the body for online magazines, subheadings and headings on any other type of site. 

The modern interpretation is easy on the eyes and readable at different screen sizes and distances. You can use it in web, mobile, and print designs. Since it is simple, it can go on anything and look fantastic. A bold version of the font works well on billboards, while a standard style looks good in apps and anywhere else you need a small type size. 

You should use the traditional and modern versions of the Savoy font in separate ways. Even though they both imply the same feelings of vintage romance and high class, their appearances are extremely different.

What Are the Best Practices for Designing With Savoy?

When designing with Savoy, you need to consider space and balance. Nash’s version from 1990 is very busy, which can quickly overwhelm a design. Even if you use one of the simplified versions, it can still create visual clutter. You want to use it sparingly and only as decoration.

It should generally always stay at the center, top, or bottom of your design. Since it looks like hand-lettered calligraphy, it draws much more attention than the usual font. If you want people to view your design in an organic way, you have to balance it with the other visual elements. The proper spacing is essential.

You should also consider how to pair it with other fonts. As we previously mentioned, you generally want to make Savoy larger than the others. It will make it easier to read and keep balance in your design. This practice applies to the modern version, too, since it is a serif font and looks better as a heading instead of body text.

Nash’s version is technically a serif, but it looks ornamental and most people use it as decoration. If you want to use it in your design, you should only use one type at a time. Using Savoy at the same time as plain, overlay, or etched can make it look visually overwhelming. However, you can use the modern roman version alongside italic, bold, or caps because it’s much more simple. 

Although you can design your work any way you want to, proper spacing, balance, and pairing can elevate your design. The best practices are the same whether you want to use the calligraphy or the modern font. You get to decide how you use them, though. The rules are meant to be broken, so you might prefer a piece where you lean into the font’s artistic style and get creative.

Is Savoy Right for Your Project?

Only you can decide if the Savoy font is the right one for your particular project. You can always try it and see how well it meshes with the images and other fonts on the page. Do your users respond well to it or bounce away? Use heat maps and split testing to compare Savoy with other options.

Savoy is definitely a unique look, so make sure it fits the tone and style of your brand. You know your customers better than anyone. What do you want to say to them and does this font family achieve the message? If not, there are plenty of other fonts available, some more functional and some extremely beautiful.

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
Chapter 21: Gotham

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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