Academic quotation from sixteenth-century Holy Roman Empire decree

altsan's picture

I'm in the process of editing and reformatting some old undergraduate papers of mine (for possible use as "academic writing samples" for some of my upcoming grad school applications).

This particular one is a history paper on the Habsburg dynasty. I've chosen to set it in 11pt Baskerville, which works fairly well. However, there are a couple of places where I use indented quotations from a primary source (a publication of laws by Charles V). I'd like to use a slightly different font for these, but I'm having trouble finding something appropriate.

I want something that not only combines well with Baskerville, but doesn't immediately scream "different font here". However, if possible, I'd also like something that can evoke the sixteenth-century European origin of the text. (The original folio was printed in London in 1532, in English; I assume it was translated from either German or Latin. It appears to use something similar to Caxton's Flemish blackletter types; here's a sample from the microfilm version I used.)

At the moment I'm using Janson Text, but I'm wondering if something slightly more archaic would be better. Are there any good fonts out there that could evoke a very subtly Teutonic feel without clashing with Baskerville? (Preferably one that's either included in Windows or Office, or at least is not expensive; this is not paid work so I don't have a budget to speak of.)

Here's a sample of what I have at the moment: http://www.altsan.org/creative/Habsburg_excerpt.pdf

PublishingMojo's picture

Most laypeople--even grad-school admissions officers--can't tell Bodoni from baloney. A best-case scenario is that they won't even notice you used a different font for the extract quotes. A worst-case scenario is that they will notice, and think it's a mistake. My suggestion would be either to use Baskerville throughout, or use something obviously different for the extract quotes, maybe a humanist sans serif like Agenda Light.

altsan's picture

It occurred to me to try using my book-weight Centaur revival, Mythology. I quite like the effect: it has a humanist, vaguely hand-written feel to it which nonetheless doesn't seem to clash overmuch with the surrounding Baskerville.

I'll experiment a bit more, but I think it's promising...

altsan's picture

Incidentally, as an undergrad I seem to have had some truly appalling judgement when it came to fonts. I found at least two essays where I'd set the entire text in Souvenir. Printed on a 24-pin dot matrix!

And that wasn't even the worst of it. I can only plead feckless youth and stupidity. :)

R.'s picture

I think that pairings such as Baskerville + Centaur don’t work at all. If I noticed such a setting, I would assume that somebody made a mistake. Mojo’s suggestion—a humanist sans—sounds (and probably looks) better to me. Have a look at John Sans for something that blends in well with Baskerville.

PS: Check this for an impression of John Sans (and Štorm’s own Baskerville).

ncaleffi's picture

Alex, as others already pointed out, I wouldn't set indented quotations in a different font: I think you should mantain the overall texture of the page homogenueus. Instead, you could try a smaller size and leading (eg. main text in 11 pts, quotations in 9,5): that is the standard way in essays literature. Which Baskerville are you using, by the way? It looks like some version of Berthold or Luin's "Classico". And may I suggest you to check the apostrophes? The ones you're using don't seem right.

altsan's picture

@R. It's the slight handwritten feel that I'm after, which I hope outweighs any dissonance from combining two such different styles. Regarding a humanist sans, that rather seems like going in the opposite direction. Actually, I did consider URW A028 (very similar to Albertus), but I found it was too dark for this purpose.

@ncaleffi I've wondered if using a different font is appropriate. I just feel that a highly regular transitional like Baskerville doesn't really 'work' with the archaic language of the quoted text. (Incidentally, it's URW Baskerville that I'm using.)

altsan's picture

Actually, I think I have a version of Fry Baskerville somewhere. Maybe using that for the quotations might work - IMO it has a slightly more organic feel than a true Baskerville...

BTW I mentioned that Souvenir wasn't the worst of the lot... I found another old essay which I apparently set in Korinna...

DTY's picture

I don't think an admissions committee will put your application in the reject pile due to use of weird fonts, but I think if the Baskerville doesn't get along with the text you are quoting, you should consider changing the whole document rather than using a completely different font for the extracts. FWIW, for an essay that covers all of Habsburg history from Middle Ages to 1918, I'd probably use something that looks academic but otherwise kind of "neutral", like Sabon or Minion.

altsan's picture

It's more for my own gratification that I'm trying to beautify it. I don't suppose the admissions people would care if it was in double-spaced Times (as the original version was).

As for Baskerville, I chose it because I recently bought it and am keen to try it out in academic writing. I think it works very well for the overall text... I think the Fry version actually might do for the quotations.

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