Bookman (typeface)

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Category Serif
Classification Transitional
Designer(s) Alexander Phemister
Chauncey H. Griffith
Ed Benguiat
Foundry Bruce Type Foundry
American Type Founders
Lanston Monotype
Date created c.1858
Design based on Old Style Antique
Shown here Bookman Oldstyle by Monotype Imaging

Bookman or Bookman Old Style is a serif typeface. It evolved from derivatives of the "Old Style" design created by Alexander Phemister around the 1850s for the Miller & Richard foundry.[1][2] It is particularly associated with the graphic design of the 1960s and 1970s, when revivals of it were very popular.[3]

Bookman (as it became) was designed as an alternative to Caslon, with a more even and regular structure, a wide and tall lower-case, little contrast in line width and considerably greater weight, almost to the point of being a slab serif. It maintains its legibility at small sizes, and has been used extensively for headlines and in advertising.


A promotional image for Miller & Richard's "Old Style". As the text says, the design was intended to capitalise on a fashion of interest in eighteenth-century "old style" designs, while offering a more delicate and regular structure reflecting how typecutting had evolved towards the Didone style since then. Bookman evolved from bolder versions of this design.[a]
Miller and Richard's Oldstyle Antique. The design is bolder but on the same basic structure. It was not designed by Phemister, who had emigrated to New York in 1861 before moving to Massachusetts a few years later.[6]

The ancestor of Bookman Old Style is Miller & Richard's "Old Style" cut by Alexander Phemister. Sometimes called a "modernised old style", it is a redesign of true old-style serif faces from the eighteenth century such as Caslon with a quite wide design and larger lower-case letters.[7][8][9][10][b] It became popular in the USA and one of a wide range of loose revivals and adaptations of the Caslon design, visible in the wide-spreading arms of the T and the sharp half-arrow serifs on many letters.[c]

The direct ancestor of Bookmans were several fonts from around 1869 named "Old Style Antique" somewhat bolder than Miller & Richard's first old-styles. "Antique" was a common name given to bolder typefaces of the time, now often called slab serifs, and identifies the aim of creating a complementary bolder design on the oldstyle model for uses such as emphasis. However, the oldstyle antique designs then became used for body text.[14][d] Although old-style antiques were bolder than the original old-style face, the difference was not great enough that they could not be used for body text.

G. Willem Ovink, a historian of type, writes in his history of the style in 1971 that:

A bold Old Style was needed. This was indeed produced, almost simultaneously in Philadelphia and in Edinburgh [around 1869] in two distinct designs, both under the name of Old Style Antique. The term 'Antique' probably refers less to historical forms than to the boldness and the stubby serifs of the Egyptians, which were also called antiques. In the 1890s, when such faces as Caslon and Jenson had introduced the notion that all historic romans were bold, their colour and old-style basic forms made the old-style Antiques in the words of De Vinne...'now often used as fair substitutes for older styles of text types,' regardless of their unhistoric origin.[14] The course of development is difficult to trace."[17]

An Old Style Antique in a Roycroft Press edition of 'Sonnets from the Portuguese' by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1898. The Roycroft Press used the family extensively. Alexander Lawson describes this as being intended by founder Elbert Hubbard to copy the dark style of impression favoured by William Morris' Kelmscott Press.[2] It was used by at least one printer around the time period for the same reason.[18]

These designs were then copied and bought up by a series of American type foundries, according to Ovink in a mixture of sizes based on the Philadelphia and Edinburgh designs. (During the period many fonts once created were copied by other foundries, in some cases probably illegally by electrotyping, making the evolution of styles complicated to track.) Ovink describes the "Philadelphia" Oldstyle Antique as being different for being slightly less bold and having an 'a' with a rounded top and a 'T' with slight curves on top.[17] Theodore De Vinne wrote of the style in 1902 that it was "in marked favour as a text letter for books intended to have more of legibility."[19] It was also used to emulate the solid style of the custom Golden Type used by William Morris at his Kelmscott Press.[18][2] At least one printer of the period noted the confusion of the apparently tautologous name, saying that it reminded him of a joke about a man who ordered café au lait with milk.[18]

By 1903 it was sold by American Type Founders under the name of Bookman Old Style, with an added italic. ATF did not offer a normal italic, instead featuring an oblique, or "sloped roman", in which the letters are simply slanted. Serif typefaces which use an oblique are now quite rare but the style was relatively common in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially for display typefaces.

A specimen of Linotype Bookman.

Bookman was popular in twentieth-century American printing for its solid colour, wide characters and legibility: one 1946 review commented that it "can stand a lot of mauling".[20] Fine printers and those more interested in the pre-nineteenth century typefaces from which it descended, however, were less impressed by it, finding it dull for its wide, large lower-case and lack of elegance.[21][2] It was most popular in the USA: by the mid-twentieth century, Old Style, Bookman and Old-Style Antique typefaces had become almost totally eclipsed in British printing except as a backup choice, partly as a result of the dominance of the British Monotype Corporation's extremely successful series of more balanced book faces and Linotype's similar series.[22] Philip Larkin described the use of Old Style Antique in 1960 for John Betjeman's autobiography Summoned By Bells in terms suggesting that he found its use archaic and somewhat ridiculous.[23] One 1959 British study of typefaces - albeit one strongly connected to Monotype and carried out by the controversial Cyril Burt - described Monotype's Oldstyle Antique as "seldom used for ordinary book work" and treated it as a design most appropriate for books for young children under 12.[24]

Chauncey H. Griffith of the American Linotype foundry developed a revival for Linotype's hot metal typesetting system (which was named "Bookman"), and Monotype also offered one.[25][26] (Linotype's has been digitised by Bitstream based on its design from this period form, making it one of the few digital versions not based on post-war versions.[27][28]) Other Old Style Antique releases were common in American printing during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Old Style Antique in a Roycroft edition of Robert Browning.

Phototypesetting period[edit]

Meola's Bookman, showing its extremely large range of ostentatious swash characters.

Many Bookman revivals appeared for phototypesetting systems in the 1960s and 1970s, often including an extensive repertoire of swash characters, meaning that the design is commonly associated with the graphic design of the period.[3] These large character repertoires took advantage of the new phototypesetting technology, which allowed characters to be stored on film or glass phototype master disks and printed at any desired size, rather than bulky metal type.[29] Letraset created one revival during this period.[30] The separation of type designs from the complex manufacturing process of metal type also allowed for easier cloning of typefaces, meaning that many fonts sold during the period were unauthorised copies or modifications of other companies' designs.

Mark Simonson, who has designed a revival of the Bookmans of this period, has commented on the most common version used in the 1960s

I have so far been unable to find out who designed and produced it. I think of it as the “Sixties Bookman.”...It’s closest to the larger sizes of ATF Bookman Oldstyle, but significantly bolder, with more contrast between the thicks and thins than other Bookmans and with smaller serifs...I’ve yet to see a credit for the designer or maker of this version. The best theory I have is that it was a custom font created for an ad campaign in the mid-sixties. Someone who had access to it made copies. And before long, every typesetting shop had it. Whatever the story is, this version of Bookman was everywhere. I had Sixties Bookman on rub-down type sheets when I was in high school in the early Seventies discovering type.[31]

One of the most famous results of this period is the 1975 ITC's revival from which many modern versions are descended.

Typographer Matthew Butterick has written that as a result of its use in this period Bookman 'evokes the Ford administration. If fonts were clothing, this would be the corduroy suit.'[3]

ITC Bookman[edit]

ITC Bookman is a revival designed by Ed Benguiat in 1975, for the International Typeface Corporation. Benguiat developed a full family of four weights plus complementary cursive designs: unlike previous Bookman versions, these are true italics in which the letters take on handwriting forms. Benguiat also drew a suite of swash and alternate characters for each of the members of the family. While Bookman's x-height was quite high already, this enlarges the lower-case even more, in the fashion of the period. Fonts for swash and alternate characters were eventually released in OpenType versions of the fonts,[32] or separately as ITC Bookman Swash.

ITC licensed the design to Adobe and Apple, guaranteeing its importance in digital printing by making it one of the core fonts of the PostScript page description language as part of the Adobe PostScript 3 Font Set.[31] (The weights licensed were Light, Light Italic, Demi, Demi Italic.)


Most digitisations of Bookman are based on the Bookman revivals of the 1960s and 1970s. An exception is Bitstream's digitisation of the Linotype Bookman of the 1930s.[27]

Because of Bookman's status as a basic part of the Postscript standard, many modern Bookman revivals and variants were created as a "metrically identical" alternative, or copy it due to its popularity. These include 'Revival 711' by Bitstream, and 'BM' by Itek.

Monotype version[edit]

Monotype Bookman (inner lines) compared to samples of the original ATF Bookman (the top one from a larger point size) scaled to the same cap height. It can be seen that the modern Bookman revival has generally wider characters than the original, a somewhat higher x-height (taller lower-case letters) and several detail differences. Ovink describes the rounded 'a' as being based on the Oldstyle Antique prepared by a Philadelphia foundry, and the straight-topped 'a' as that prepared by Miller & Richard. Visible also is a compressed descender on the 'g' to allow tighter linespacing.)
Comparison between Monotype Bookman (above in the samples) and its ancestor Caslon (below), scaled to matching cap height. The caps are quite similar but the lower-case letters of this Bookman revival are wider and higher (a higher x-height).

The current Monotype version of Bookman is called Monotype Bookman Old Style or marketed as Bookman Old Style. It was designed by Ong Chong Wah. It is based on earlier Lanston Monotype and ATF models, but again was redesigned to match the ITC version. It is bundled with many Microsoft products, making it one of the most commonly used versions of Bookman.[33]

In Monotype Bookman the italic was redrawn to be a true italic similar to ITC Bookman. Though the face's name includes the phrase 'Old Style,' the near-vertical stress of the face places it more in the transitional classification. This version include support of Cyrillic, Greek, and extended Latin characters.

It was bundled with Microsoft Office products since version 4.3, except in Windows 7 Starter, and in TrueType Font Pack. A retail version of the font is also sold.[34]

Revivals of Bookman Old Style with swashes were often seen in 1970s graphic design, often quite tightly spaced.

URW++ donated their PostScript alternative, known as URW Bookman L, to the Ghostscript project as a free software replacement for the ITC version. It was further enhanced by the Polish GUST foundry as part of their TeX Gyre project and named Bonum.[35][36]

Jukebox Bookman[edit]

It is a revival of the original Bookman family, designed by Jason Walcott and published by Veer.[37]

This family includes 6 fonts, with complementary italic, and 2 swash designs for each of the roman and italic fonts.

Bookmania (2011)[edit]

It is a revival of Bookman Oldstyle and the Bookmans of the 1960s, designed by Mark Simonson. The design was started from a custom font designed by Mark Simonson back in 2006, which was based on Bookman Bold Italic with Swash, and a Bookman Bold with Swash font designed by Miller & Richard (as credited by Letraset). The italic fonts were redesigned to include optical correction. Unlike the ITC and Monotype revivals, Simonson chose to use the obliques preferred by ATF, offering true italic characters as an alternate.

The family contains a large number of alternate characters, such as swashes and unicase characters.


  1. ^ Neil Macmillan (2006). An A-Z of type designers. Yale University Press. p. 146. ISBN 0-300-11151-7. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d Alexander S. Lawson (January 1990). Anatomy of a Typeface. David R. Godine Publisher. pp. 262–280. ISBN 978-0-87923-333-4. 
  3. ^ a b c Butterick, Matthew. "Bad Fonts". Practical Typography. Retrieved 29 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Stanley Morison (7 June 1973). A Tally of Types. CUP Archive. pp. 16–18. ISBN 978-0-521-09786-4. 
  5. ^ William S. Peterson (1991). The Kelmscott Press: A History of William Morris's Typographical Adventure. University of California Press. pp. 25–6, 89, 106. ISBN 978-0-520-06138-5. 
  6. ^ Loy, William. "An excerpt from Nineteenth-Century American Designers & Engravers of Type". Oak Knoll. Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  7. ^ Alastair Campbell; Alistair Dabbs (10 February 2014). Typography Pocket Essentials: The History and Principles of the Art. Octopus. pp. 113–8. ISBN 978-1-78157-155-2. 
  8. ^ Mosley, James. "Recasting Caslon Old Face". Type Foundry. Retrieved 1 August 2015. 
  9. ^ Johnson, Alfred F. (1931). "Old-Face Types in the Victorian Age" (PDF). Monotype Recorder. 30 (242): 5–14. Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  10. ^ Hlasta, Stanley (1950). Printing Types and How to Use Them. pp. 55–6. 
  11. ^ Bill Bell (23 November 2007). Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, Volume 3: Ambition and Industry 1800-1880. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 27–30. ISBN 978-0-7486-2881-0. 
  12. ^ Alexander Nesbitt (1998). The History and Technique of Lettering. Courier Corporation. pp. 163–4. ISBN 978-0-486-40281-9. 
  13. ^ "Ronaldson Old Style". MyFonts. Canada Type. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Theodore Low De Vinne (1910). The practice of typography: a treatise on the processes of type-making, the point system, the names, sizes, styles and prices of plain printing types. Century Co. pp. 323–335. 
  15. ^ Tracy, Walter. Letters of Credit. pp. 65–6. The other kind of secondary type, the related bold face, is a twentieth-century creation. Although the use of bold type for emphasis in text began when display advertising became a feature of the family magazines of the mid-nineteenth century, the bold types themselves were Clarendons, Ionics and Antiques quite unrelated to the old styles and moderns used for the text. As late as 1938 the Monotype Recorder, a distinguished British journal of typography, could say, “The ‘related bold’ is a comparatively new phenomenon in the history of type cutting.” 
  16. ^ Mosley, James. "Comments on Typophile thread "Where do bold typefaces come from?"". Typophile. Retrieved 16 December 2016. For the record, the Clarendon type of the Besley foundry is indeed the first type actually designed as a ‘related bold’ – that is, made to harmonize in design and align with the roman types it was set with. It was registered in Britain in 1845. 
  17. ^ a b Ovink, G.W. (1971). "Nineteenth-century reactions against the didone type model - I". Quaerendo. 1 (2): 18–31. doi:10.1163/157006971x00301. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  18. ^ a b c William R. Johnston (22 September 1999). William and Henry Walters, the Reticent Collectors. JHU Press. pp. 105–7. ISBN 978-0-8018-6040-9. 
  19. ^ Theodore Low De Vinne (1902). The Practice of Typography: A Treatise on Title-pages, with Numerousillustrations in Facsimile and Some Observations on the Early and Recent Printing of Books. Century Company. pp. 233–241. 
  20. ^ Bookbinding & Book Production, Volumes 44-45. 1946. p. 80. 
  21. ^ The Inland Printer, Volume 73. 1924. p. 74. The "higher critics" of typedom to not recognise the Bookman type face, but the practical fellows who keep the printing business alive - we refer particularly to the advertisers and their agents - think a lot of it. 
  22. ^ David Finkelstein (23 November 2007). Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, Volume 4: Professionalism and Diversity 1880-2000. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 122–149. ISBN 978-0-7486-2884-1. 
  23. ^ Philip Larkin (20 December 2012). Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982. Faber & Faber. pp. 120–2. ISBN 978-0-571-29497-8. 
  24. ^ A Psychological Study of Typography. CUP Archive. pp. 11, 30. GGKEY:L0XRUJA9NW4. 
  25. ^ "Lanston Monotype Bookman specimen" (PDF). Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  26. ^ "Lanston Monotype Bookman specimen b" (PDF). Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  27. ^ a b "Bookman Linotype/Bitstream". MyFonts. Bitstream. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  28. ^ Hardwig, Florian. "The Instructor Primary Science Concept Charts". Fonts in Use. Retrieved 4 February 2017. 
  29. ^ Lurie-Terrell, Joshua. "Famous Manwich Recipes 1971". Fonts In Use. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  30. ^ Priddey, Neil. "An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down by Rod Stewart". Fonts In Use. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  31. ^ a b Simonson, Mark. "Bookmania specimen pdf". Mark Simonson Studio. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  32. ^ What's Hot From ITC: January 2006
  33. ^ Simonson, Mark. "Monotype's Other Arials". Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  34. ^ "Bookman Old Style". MyFonts. Monotype. Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  35. ^ "URW font ttf conversions". Ghostscript. Retrieved 22 September 2015. 
  36. ^
  37. ^ "Jukebox Bookman". MyFonts. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  1. ^ As with Bookman itself, historically minded designers came to find this recut Old Style dull, following a practice of reverence for eighteenth-century art over that of the nineteenth. Stanley Morison commented "What in Caslon did not conform to Victorian ideas of typographical rectitude had been cast out. Even swash letters were not included. Eyes used to sharpness of cut and regularity of letter-width found both in Old Style."[4][5]
  2. ^ Some confusion has occurred over this naming, with some using "old-style" to mean typefaces in the eighteenth-century and before, and others, including Miller and Richard, using it to mean revivals in the same style. This article follows Walter Tracy and others in using the term "modernised old style" to avoid confusion.[11][12]
  3. ^ Ronaldson Old Style by Alexander Kay (1884) was another, as was Phemister's own later Franklin, created after he had emigrated.[13]
  4. ^ The mid-nineteenth century was a period in which the idea that a normal body text font should be sold with its own related bold had not fully evolved: it was common for printers to use an unrelated bolder serif font, then called "Clarendon" or "Antique" types, but now often called "slab serifs", to match their body text face.[15][16] So "Oldstyle Antique" signified a bold type with the letterforms of oldstyle typefaces.

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