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ITC Legacy® Square Serif


Ronald Arnholm
The full ITC Legacy collection of fonts, which includes faces that first became available in the early 1990s, is based on the Eusebius typeface by Nicolas Jenson, the French engraver, printer and pioneer typographer who created the design centuries ago in 1470. Jenson's original design featured distinctive slab serif shapes and asymmetrical foot serifs, which Arnholm carried over into his work. The new ITC Legacy Square Serif face was produced with square corners, which appear to soften at small sizes.

The ITC Legacy™ Square Serif and ITC Legacy Serif Condensed designs make the ITC Legacy family a typographic tour de force. These two designs join the ITC Legacy Sans and ITC Legacy Serif suites of typefaces to create a remarkably handsome and versatile extended typeface family.

“The idea of designing a square serif Legacy was the result of a ‘Eureka!’ moment,” says Ron Arnholm. “It suddenly came to me, out of the blue, that a square serif design was needed to round out the ITC Legacy family.”

When asked about the condensed serif designs, Arnholm replies, “These are the first condensed serif typefaces I’ve drawn. I’m delighted that they turned out to be natural complements to the normal weights and the sans serif condensed faces I drew earlier.”

As with all his earlier designs, Arnholm began by making pencil sketches of the basic alphabet. “This is the only way for me to get a feel for a letterform,” he says. “It provides me with a constant, tactile feedback of the design process. In some ways, I find that paper and pencil are more important tools in creating typefaces than the design software in my computer.”

Many of the lowercase foot serifs in the 1470 Nicholas Jenson typeface, which Arnholm used as a foundation for the Legacy family are asymmetrical. Their slab serif shapes are longer on the right, with minimal bracketing, while those on the left are much shorter, are tapered and have much more bracketing. Arnholm continued this design metaphor in his new square serif design. This serif treatment, while it resembles that of the Jenson model, is actually crisper because the serifs have square corners. At small sizes, the corners appear to soften, and as a result, the design does not assert itself as a “square serif” style at small sizes. This makes it an ideal text face that melds with the other Legacy family fonts in perfect harmony. As the type approaches display sizes, however, its distinct personality shines through. Arnholm was also careful to match the overall color, weight, and humanist diagonal stress of his earlier sans and serif versions of the family.

The design of the italic was a particular challenge for Arnholm in that he did not want a copy of the Legacy Serif italics but still wanted to maintain the Renaissance influence in the new designs. His experience as a calligrapher helped him to overcome this hurdle. The resulting design is a cursive old style italic containing a vestige of the 16th-century Garamond italics. It is a robust design, and yet the lowercase words flow beautifully at all sizes.

Old Style Serif