We are excited to present this feature article exploring the rich history of various font styles, with this edition focusing on Transitional Serif Fonts. As you delve into the fascinating journey of these typefaces, we have handpicked five standout fonts from our extensive serif font collection for your consideration. Discover how these unique fonts have shaped the world of typography and find inspiration for your next design project.

The Origins of Old Style Serif Fonts

As a replacement for ye olde blackletter handwriting, old style serifs reigned from the 1400s until the mid-1700s. These serifs were based on Roman inscriptions and although they were crafted by typographers of that era instead of being meticulously hand-drawn, they still had characteristics reminiscent of pen strokes.

The very earliest beginnings of the transition to a more “mechanical” looking type style first took root around 1692 when Jacques Jaugeon began work on a typeface for King Louis XIV. While the type design would not be published until 1702 and the entire family of 82 fonts would take more than four more decades to complete, Romain du Roi (King’s Roman) was the first transitional serif – a type style that would essentially bridge the gap between old style and modern serifs.


Romain du Roi: The First Transitional Serif

Romain du Roi was designed during the Age of the Enlightenment, a period that saw great change and a desire to secede from traditional norms. Because of this, Jaugeon broke away from the traditional handwritten influence of old style typography and embraced a more scientific approach. His designs were crafted on a grid, featuring a horizontal, unbracketed architecture that essentially flipped the bird at calligraphic lettering altogether.

Jaugeon may not have realized at the time just how type would evolve as a result of his work. In the 1750s, English printer and type designer John Baskerville left his mark on typography with the creation of Baskerville, which is perhaps the most well-known transitional font.

Like other transitional serifs that would follow in its footsteps, Baskerville has high contrast between its thin and thick strokes, more vertical stress in the bowls of its rounded letters, tapered and more horizontal serifs that add sharpness, and a more circular shape to its rounded strokes.   

Transitional typefaces increased legibility in print, although Baskerville certainly wasn’t without its share of critics. There was a fair amount of concern that this type style would damage readers’ eyes as they struggled to read text with such high contrast. 

Baskerville must have done something right because he received praise from the likes of Benjamin Franklin (a founding father of the United States) and Giambattista Bodoni (the type designer responsible for his namesake serif typefaces). Even though Baskerville’s work wasn’t entirely well-received in Britain, it’s impossible to deny the influence it made on typography worldwide – decades and even centuries later.


Baskerville and the Expansion of Transitional Typefaces

Baskerville essentially opened the door to other transitional serifs like Bookman, Georgia, and even Times New Roman – a font that’s regularly used in news publications and high school essays around the globe because of its excellent legibility. Crafted in the 1930s by Victor Lardent, Times New Roman was actually commissioned for a British newspaper, which is rather amusing considering the amount of flak Baskerville received over his own transitional serifs. If only he knew then what we know now.

Although typography later transitioned through the modern type movement and well beyond, transitional serif fonts certainly have a place in contemporary design projects. YouWorkForThem offers a number of transitional-style serifs, all easily found through our search feature!


Bordeaux Typeface

A few of our favorite serif fonts include Bordeaux from Letraset, a condensed type design with the quintessential high contrast of a transitional font. Bordeaux is perfect for design projects that want the clarity and elegance of a transitional type design but need to maximize the use of limited horizontal space.



Late November Pro Serif Font

Late November Pro from International House of Fonts is a sophisticated transitional type design with stellar legibility and beautifully balanced architecture. Late November Pro is gorgeous in publishing applications, newspaper and newsletter layouts, websites, and any design project that needs a classic yet modern serif that’s comfortable to read through long passages of text.



Anglecia Pro Text

Anglecia Pro Text from Mint Type is an incredibly versatile family of transitional typefaces that were crafted with editorial design in mind. The entire family also includes Anglecia Pro Display and Anglecia Pro Title for use in everything from displays and signage to headlines, subheadings, editorials, publishing, advertising, website designs, e-books, white papers, and so much more.



1785 GLC Baskerville Pro Typeface

For something with a little bit more of an aged appearance, 1785 GLC Baskerville Pro from Gilles Le Corre found its inspiration in the original Baskerville, specifically in a printing of the complete work of Voltaire from 1785. This type design carefully reconstructed two historical styles – right down to their spacing and kerning – for an authentic digital rendering in both the Normal and Italic letter sets. 1785 GLC Baskerville Pro is perfect for design projects that need a distressed transitional font, including publications with a historical theme, labels, product packaging, menus, merchandise, and marketing materials.



Victorian Orchid Font

Victorian Orchid from Dharma Type is a beautiful serif family with lower contrast, yet it carries the horizontal serifs and vertical stresses indicative of transitional lettering styles. Available in five weights that range from Light to Bold with corresponding italics for each, Victorian Orchid is absolutely lovely in publishing applications of all kinds.


At YouWorkForThem, we take pride in our 20+ year history of offering more than 160,000 high-quality fonts and countless stock art options to designers worldwide. Our instant downloads and cash back rewards program make it easier than ever to access the resources you need for your projects. With flexible personal and corporate level font and stock art licensing, we cater to various needs without any hassle.

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