Century Schoolbook alternativesWhy use a children’s font?

The “Scotch Ro­man” style of text face has been con­sis­tently pop­u­lar since the mid-1800s, and traces its roots to the Ed­in­burgh foundry of William Miller. The orig­i­nal font named Cen­tury, de­signed by Linn Boyd Ben­ton in 1894, was de­rived from this Scotch model. Since then, the Scotch fla­vor has lived on in many other faces, some car­ry­ing “Cen­tury” in their name, oth­ers not. (For in­stance, the Geor­gia sys­tem font is also in the Scotch family.)

I in­clude the Cen­tury School­book sys­tem font on my list of “gen­er­ally tol­er­a­ble” sys­tem fonts. But it’s hardly the nicest Cen­tury. Rather, it’s a later spin­off cre­ated by Mor­ris Fuller Ben­ton (Linn’s son) from re­search about what chil­dren found easy to read—hence the name, which con­tem­plates its in­tended use. It’s not bad. But its let­ter­forms are rather loose and broad.

The Scotch cat­e­gory is full of bet­ter op­tions. A few of my fa­vorites are Miller (named af­ter the Ed­in­burgh foundry), Har­riet, and In­ge­borg. I’ve also de­signed my own take on this style called Cen­tury Supra, which brings to­gether things I like about a num­ber of Scotch-style faces from the early- to mid-1900s.

by the way
  • The Com­puter Mod­ern fonts that are part of TeX are based on Scotch Ro­man, be­cause it’s also been a pop­u­lar style for math and sci­en­tific typesetting.

  • Cen­tury School­book is used in the PDF opin­ions of the United States Supreme Court, and count­less law-school text­books as well.

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