The design was drawn by Gill and cut by the Caslon foundry in 1931, as two sizes of hand-set type. These were for the exclusive use of Gill’s printing firm, Hague & Gill. Fittingly, the first use of Joanna was to set Gill’s own “Essay on Typography.”
Not long after, Hague & Gill (along with the rights to Joanna) was acquired by J. M. Dent & Sons. In 1937, Monotype produced a machine-set version of Joanna for the exclusive use of its new owner. Dent later agreed to a general release of the small family of roman and italic designs, and Monotype added these fonts to its prestigious typeface library.
In 1986, the Monotype Type Drawing Office added Semi Bold, Bold and Extra Bold weights to the family and re-released Joanna as one of its first digital fonts. Small caps, ligatures and old style figures were created to give the family more versatility.
Joanna has a quiet elegance that distinguishes it from other serif typefaces. The design features modestly-sized capitals (shorter than the lowercase ascenders), moderate contrast between thick and thin in character strokes, and small, straight serifs. The italic was drawn as a book face in its own right and can be used for setting body text, not just for emphasis or footnotes.
Now the Joanna family is available as a suite of OpenType Pro fonts. Graphic communicators can now work with this versatile design while taking advantage of OpenType’s capabilities, including the automatic insertion of old style figures, ligatures and small caps.
The new Joanna Pro fonts also offer an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages