Serif font used in a book published in Italy in 2000


A book published in 2000 by the Italian publishing house L'Erma di Bretschneider uses this font. Since it is a congress volume, it includes contributions in several different languages.

I tried to figure it out with "What the font"; it suggested "Georgia Pro Condensed Light", which is a close match, but the shape of the letter "Q" is clearly different.

Help is very much appreciated!

SNAG-0020.jpg is a very clear scan I did from the book itself.

SNAG-0021.jpg is included because it showes the shape of the letter "Q".

img0009.jpg is a full page scan, unfortunately from a photo copy.



In the description, you said, 'I tried to figure it out with "What the font"; it suggested "Georgia Pro Condensed Light", which is a close match, but the shape of the letter "Q" is clearly different.'
In Georgia, the uppercase and lowercase o have a straight axis.

Since Georgia Condensed Light and Times might seem to look alike, there is quite a similarity in the flow. However, the serifs of b and d in Georgia have a straight top and a slanting, rounded bottom.
In Times, the b and d have a slanted top and a straight bottom gently rounding to the vertical forms.

If you have a word processor or a desktop publishing application, test both typefaces and compare them side by side.

Hi there,

thanks a lot for the quick help! The serifs do match!

But which Times variant is it exactly?

In this version, for instance, everything looks more streched:

Thanks again!

Does the book have a colophon?

The font being used does indeed look like Times to an extent, but it is not any variety of Times that I have access to which is all the major ones and a couple of look-alikes. There are some individual character differences between the major versions of Times and that shown in the book which are troubling.

Unless you can positively identify the font, the closest match would be Times New Roman.

Nope, no colophon, unfortunately.

I understand that the serifs are quite Times-like, but the slender (well, I'm a layperson ...) "look & feel" is quite different from the MS Word Times New Roman I know. In this respect (just the "slenderness") it seems a lot closer to Georgia Condensed Light. Is there a Times variety with this property?

Thanks for your help so far!

What is the name of the book? Your scan is excellent but there are just some things about the character shapes that bother me. If I can look at a copy locally I can better try to identify it.

It is this book:

Franca Ela Consolino (ed.), Letteratura e propaganda nell’occidente latino da Augusto ai regni romanobarbarici, Rome 2000.

Thanks for the title Anton. I'll see if I can get a copy through Inter-Library loan. May take some time though so I hope you're not on deadline for the information.

No deadline at all --- I've been curious for several years now. Maybe I should e-mail the publisher and ask, but I'm not sure whether they would answer or rather regard it as a trade secret.

Thanks once more, and a Happy New Year!

That's what I have done so far; don't expect to hear from them until after New Year's. If they don't have an answer then I'll get a copy of the book and examine it in detail.

Happy New Year to you and yours also!

The font looks also very close to the Latin subset of some Chinese/Japanese Mac OS fonts:
http://Kai (c) Shanghai Ikarus Ltd. 1993 1994 1995
http://Apple Li Sung (Light) (c) Apple Computer, Inc. 1992-1998

(I suppose they are based on Times too)

@Fivos, I agree that Apple Li Sung Light is based on Times, and in fact the serifs are a better match to the book than Times is. Other than that, it isn't what the book is set in. My personal feeling is that the publisher would, I hope, have a better workflow than to be using System fonts to set anything at all.

The book is set in an interesting font and it will be good to discover its identity.

Ok, I did some deep googling: L'Erma, the publisher, has a few, but only a few, preview documents as PDF on its website.

Thus I searched for type:pdf, and "saggi di storia antica"; that's the name of the series in which the book was published (as number 15).

Here's a preview of number 19:
And that's a preview of number 6:

Do these volumes really use the same font as "my" book number 15? I can't decide based on these compressed PDFs. At any rate, both PDFs have "Times New Roman PSMT" embedded. Should the solution be really that simple? And where can I check a character map of this PSMT version in order to enter my example texts and compare?

Thanks as always!

PS: After further googling, I found a preview of "my" number 15!
Here it is:

Again, it says "Times New Roman PSMT". Where can I get this font? After all, it is not identical to my Microsoft Word default font ...

The PDF previews you found are just scans of print versions of the books, so you shouldn’t attach any value to the font information in the files.

Ok, this is a more recent installment (Number 33 of the series), and this time, it is not a scan:

But still it is this "Times New Roman PSMT" and a few other fonts I do not really understand (PSMT-SC700?). I must admit that I am a complete layperson in typography, I just love beautiful fonts. But how can it be that "Times New Roman" of all fonts caught my eye?

Anton, Number 33 is indeed Times New Roman, however it is different than the font used in the volume in question; there are subtle character differences.

BTW, the PSMT merely means it is Times New Roman, Postscript version, from Monotype. It is a mainstream version.

Thanks, George. Sigh, all of this remains mysterious. Who typesets first in an elegant font, only to return to Times New Roman in a later installment? I also guess that there's not much point in e-mailing the publisher: some volumes do have colophones (though not the volume in question), and these show that the publisher uses different local providers. So they probably won't remember who did number 15 fourteen years ago. And if they need to scan it now, they probably don't have a PDF at hand ... I'm getting pessimistic about ever finding out about the font.

Interesting discussion.
Out of curiosity I pulled the "Times New Roman PSMT" subset from the pdf. Here it is:

I agree with George that his is not a match to the book. As you can see it looks very conventional. George's explanation that PSMT is post script Monotype makes sense to me.
By the way the rise of digital fonts did not change the practice of printing books from metal type until relatively recently. This may have still been the practice for the Italian publisher in 2000.
So we are back to the question of where the publisher got this version of Times.
Perhaps an Italian foundry like Nebillo?

@Anton I mentioned earlier that I have emailed the publisher about the book. I don't expect an answer until possibly next week due to the holidays.

@Don Good point about metal; I had not considered that. If I get a reply from them and they don't know the answer, then I'm going to query them about what typesetting system they had during that time.

An update to the mystery of the font used in the Italian book: I got a response yesterday from Customer Service at the publishing house that printed the book and he clearly stated that the book was typeset in TIMES NEW ROMAN. Although I had asked for the name of their typesetting system during that era, he did not reveal that.

I think we were all certain that yes, it is Times or Times New Roman of some flavor, but it really isn't. That was the mystery.

I also received, yesterday, a copy of the book from the Library of Congress to examine. The type in the book is clearly digital, possibly even electronically generated. The curves are not very smooth in many cases, and many of the thins in characters such as /a are broken, which is what I think could happen in a high-speed purely electronic system. It makes sense that a very large publisher would have such a system.

If you guys want me to post a few samples, I have a digital microscope that will give you a very good look at the type in the book.

PS stands for PostScript, MT for Monotype. George Thomas correctly states that Times New Roman PS MT is Times New Roman from Monotype. The Linotype/Adobe-version is called Times. Times was originally based on the outlines of the Linotype version of Times New Roman, which is called Times Roman. The various versions of Times New Roman on the one side and Times and Times Roman on the other can be distinguished by the top left corners of the counters (the white interior space) of the capitals such as B, E and F. The Monotype outlines typically show angular inner corners at the top left counters, whereas the Linotype version has rounded corners.

Monotype produced their ‘PostScript’ version of Times New Roman around 1990, the period when almost everyone in the type industry was producing ‘PostScript clones’. In this process Monotype fitted their outlines of Times New Roman on the widths of the Linotype/Adobe version. Microsoft was one of Monotype’s customers and Windows ships with a version of that more or less PS-compatible font data since version 3.1 since its release in 1991. I think that what we see on the photocopy is either (a later version of) the Microsoft version, or it is Times New Roman PS MT suffering from being typeset in Word and/or medium resolution output on a not very professional device. In those days some publishing houses saved money by making plates from laser printer output instead from films.
Linotype also produced various versions of Times. Next to the Linotype/Adobe version there is also Times Ten and Times Eighteen. These are digital versions of Linotype designs for different point sizes.

The only Italian foundry that ever produced a Times look-alike was Simoncini. That typeface was called Life. It is still available from Linotype. The typeface used in the book of L’Erma is clearly not Life. Georgia(condensed) is way off too.

Have you tried using the Serif Font ID Guide? Since you have the book, it should be relatively easy to compare the details with the samples the Guide shows. I have been trying it, and the Q from TNR seems to have a different angle to the tail than your sample. The upper counter on the g in your samples also seems less rounded than TNR. Ruling out Font Bureau's "Starling", because it is too new, the Guide would suggest Times Eighteen, Times Headline or CG Times. There are italic samples for these, except Times Eighteen. My eyeball is not calibrated enough to say anything for sure, but you can use the Compare feature to see all of them at the same time, and try to sift out differences between the versions. The T serifs are another difference, and the italic g and z, as examples.
You may be able to find enough details in your copy to make a more definitive comparison.

- Mike Yanega

Sorry for not answering earlier, I lost track of the thread.

Albert Jan, I think you are right: In fact, the book's imprint mentions an Italian professor who did the "elaborazione elettronica". I was not sure exactly what was meant, but I sent him a message and asked which typeface was used and which typesetting system. He wrote back that he's got no clue what I am talking about, but he attaches the document as he sent it to the publishing house.

It is a Word document with the exact page layout of the printed book. The font is Times New Roman. Hm, now that I know it, I also notice this short line that divides the text body from the foot notes. You can see it in the photocopied/scanned page I have posted above. So we're faced with a Word page with more or less default setting.

But I have to add a stupid question: I am faced with Word/Times New Roman printouts on a daily basis. I see it all the time. Why does Times New Roman look in this book different to me? Or is this just an illusion?

And: thanks so much to everyone who was contributed. I have learned a lot!