As a multi-featured OpenType family, with the most extensive Latin-based glyph complement Adobe has yet offered, Arno offers extensive pan-European language support, including Cyrillic and polytonic Greek. The family also offers such typographic niceties as five optical size ranges, extensive swash italic sets, and small capitals for all covered languages.
The name for this font family comes from the river running through the Italian city of Florence. The city itself is famous for renaissance architecture and with it the typography that became unique to the period. The 15th and 16th centuries were a time of great change and this was reflected in just about every aspect of life, including the printed word.
Robert Slimbach, long-term principal designer at Adobe when he developed Arno, was interested in making a modern font family that although had inherent features of the Renaissance era, would be modern enough to be functional. Slimbach paid close attention to detail as with all his designs and the resulting Arno font family has become a reflection of the way text was reproduced in traditional Venetian and Aldine Press books. In particular, Arno took influence from the early typeface named after Frenchman Jensen a renowned typesetter who worked mainly in Venice in the 15th century. He designed a specific typeface called Adobe Jensen® which embodied the Renaissance style of this printer.
The original renaissance typefaces were used to print mostly Latin so the design and kerning of letters was appropriate to that language. The Arno typeface is a modern version of this design so was kerned with European letter combinations and ligatures in mind. The outline of Arno is extremely crisp and somehow Slimbach has created a totally modernized version of these older typefaces without losing their heritage.
Metal foundry types as used in books of the renaissance do not digitize well, causing uprights to appear thin and out of proportion resulting in reduced legibility. The Arno typeface addresses this shortcoming and places a little more emphasis in the stroke widths of affected letters. The Arno font family is a very polished and perfect rendition of a Renaissance typeface retaining the flowing style, improving readability and with the added bonus of such a vast collection of styles, weights and widths within the Arno font family.
With such an extensive glyph set, the Arno font family is very usable in every European language. The 5 optical sizes available within the design make it especially useful for those typesetting book covers. The large sizes make it ideal for use in creating larger versions of Jensen/Aldine style fonts, which are notoriously difficult to enlarge in an appealing way. Arno is bundled with some Adobe products so no doubt it has found its way into millions of documents worldwide. It is useful for producing all sorts of content as Slimbach has managed to add a timeless quality to the design that will ensure the Arno font family’s continued popular use.
Specifically, Arno is a good way of introducing a classic look to a brochure, some appropriate signage lettering for historic places but most of all to represent older texts in the correct visual design context that they were intended to be read in. This means works from the renaissance in whatever language, can be reproduced in a readable and understandable typeface while still looking authentic. Arno fonts would also be suitable for both body and title text in book publishing and for revivalist publications.