The Trajan design was named after the 13th Emperor of Rome (circa. 100AD), who was a keen builder of public buildings. As was customary for Roman buildings of the time, his buildings bore distinctive stone-chiseled plaques to honor those who built them. Wherever you went in Rome, you could be sure of seeing his name adorning an edifice somewhere. Trajan ’ s Column, a large column dedicated to him, bears inscriptions in the distinctive style and is one of the most famous examples of Roman square capitals.
Characteristic of the Roman typeface is a dot placed mid-character height like a hyphen, generally to separate words – although not in between every word. Titles most often had these abbreviations possibly in an attempt to increase the amount of information in the small space available most likely because they had a tendency to have a long public office title and even longer personal names.
Edward Caitch was a Roman Catholic priest who, as a master calligrapher, had been researching the typeface on Trajan ’ s column for some time. He was unconvinced that these typefaces were based solely on chiseling techniques, and surmised that the serifs they contained were in fact the result of painted calligraphy. Caitch showed that the letters were painted onto the stone, wherupon the expert stone-masons would then chisel the characters out.
Font designer Carol Twombly took this research and created a typeface that had many of the features of the original Trajan Column. She included a number of modern punctuation marks and symbols such as the copyright “ © ” and the Euro “ € ” symbols. The typeface has a number of mathematical symbols including all the commonly used Greek Symbols used such as pi, Epsilon, Delta and common operators such as Square Root and Greater than/equal to. These symbols are most often found in more the extensive glyph coverage that common fonts have, but the style of the Trajan font family makes it especially suitable for typing equations that, assuming one understands math, are easy to visually comprehend.
The Trajan design conveys a feeling of importance, elegance and is very easy to read at a distance but seems to have found its niche in Hollywood. It has been used in a huge number of movie title sequences and is even more popular on DVD packaging. Just about every genre of movie has at one time or another used the Trajan design for the main titles. It has appeared on National television worldwide in numerous title sequences and even used in presidential campaign promotions.