Graphic Design Blog Post

Caecilia Font: Body Text Exercises + Gibson Typeface!

Here are some more experiments with the typeface PMN Caecilia, this time using it as a body text.

Here are some initial sketches that I did when I was thinking of ideas for layout of the text.


Caecilia is quite a pleasant font to use for body text for a few reasons, as follows:

• The letters have a smooth, even texture. When they are put together in body text, they create a relatively uniform, grey covering of the surface, which is quite pleasing to the eye. To get an idea of this texture, try looking at the examples with your eyes out of focus. Mmmm, smooth.

• The font has excellent kerning. Someone has taken many long hours going through Caecilia and figuring out how each letter should fit together, and it shows. This means that the typeface looks perfect in body text without out any modification. Quality of kerning is an easy way to distinguish between a professional and amateur typeface. Even if the letterforms look great, the kerning will often be incorrect in amateur fonts, while it is usually spot-on in a professional font.

• Caecilia has “true” italics and small-caps. This means that the italics are not simple slanted versions of the original roman font (referred to as obliques), but fully redesigned italics that have different forms from the roman.  The letters “a” and “f” are usually the most noticeably different between the roman and italic versions of fonts.

Take a look at Gibson, by CanadaType foundry, the most recent typeface I’ve purchased. The roman “a”s and “f”s are very different from the italics.


Also, GO BUY THIS FONT! It is only $48 for 4 different weights + italics, and it is really beautiful and excellent for titles and body text. I’ll do another blog post on it soon.

And here are the final results, using a hilarious quotation from Woody Allen. (And let’s just try to ignore the nastiness that is going on with Mr. Allen right now and appreciate this quotation as a separate entity.)

My typographic treatment of the text plays on the theme of moving backwards through life and finishing in an orgasm. The first exercise also gives a kind of summary of the passage by separating all the key nouns and putting them in small caps on the right side.




Graphic Design Blog Post

Font Study: PMN Caecilia


PMN Caecilia is an elegant slab serif designed by Dutch Designer Peter Matthias Noordzij.

The first drafts of Caecilia were created in 1983, and the completed font was released by Linotype in 1991. The name is a combination of the designer’s initials—PMN—and a version of his wife’s first name, Cécile. The font builds on a long history of slab serifs, beginning in the early 19th century, when designers began to play with the proportions of letters and the shapes of serifs to create interesting fonts for advertising. The traditional, angular serif was broadened to create the blocky serif that defines a slab typeface.

Slab serifs, also known as “Egyptians”, first existed only in the upper case, with the lower case coming later. Some of the major precursors to Caecilia that inspired its design include Rockwell, Egyptienne, Courier, and Clarendon. Slabs are usually divided into two categories—clarendon and neo-grotesque—the latter of which Caecilia falls into. A clarendon is defined as a typeface with minor bracketing (curved connections between the stem and serif) and a serif thickness that is different from the stem thickness. These characteristics contrast with the sharp angles and geometric regularity of a Neo-grotesque.

Caecilia takes the smoothness of a clarendon one step further by introducing humanist variety to the thickness of its strokes. Because of this, it has been called the first-ever “neo-humanist slab”. Fonts such as Archer and Museo Slab have since built on the humanist legacy of Caecilia.

Caecilia has been one of the most widely used slab typefaces since its release, and ushered in the public acceptance of slabs as text fonts. It has a friendly, open quality, with a large x-height and open counters. Caecilia is available in four different weights, each with an accompanying true italic.


One of its most prominent uses is as the default font on Kindle e-readers. It is used in this context because its thick slab serifs make it easily legible on the pixelated screen. Typefaces with thin serifs tend to become distorted when displayed in small sizes on screens.

Other uses of the font include:

Apps such as Yesterday:

In Use App 1

Magazines such as Golf Digest:

In Use Golf Digest 2

Food and drink labels such as Publican Beer:
In Use Publican 2

And TV channels such as SVT2:

In Use TV 1

Caecilia is available for purchase from its original distributor, Linotype and has more recently been made available from Adobe, FontShop, and MyFonts.


The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
The Revival of Slab-Serif Typefaces in the Twentieth Century by Keith Tam