Font that emulates old scholarly journal articles?

Sinusoid's picture

I'm looking for a font that emulates the text in old scholarly journals. Here are a few examples of what I mean:

These examples are actually kind of clean; something even more rough (but still legible) would be more preferable. It's kind of hard to explain what I'm talking about, since I'm not well versed in typography lingo, but the fonts look rough, or not crisp, especially when you're zoomed out. Like sometimes it seems as if some of the edges are almost missing or faded out. That's the visual I'm going for. Something that conveys that this is text made for a scholarly article, but that it is premodern, or precomputer at least.

Are there any fonts like that?

hrant's picture

Speaking in terms of genres, the first is a De Vinne, the others are Moderns. But what's called the "weathered" (AKA "distressed", AKA "grunge") look you seek is independent of the genre (although historic styles are more likely to get that treatment).

Not the best stuff, but:


DTY's picture

Most distressed text faces tend to be based on much earlier styles. For something based on text type contemporary with the examples you show, you might look at Coldstyle:

sgh's picture

Two fonts that reproduce the style of early 20th century scholarly journals are Donald Knuth's Computer Modern developed for TeX (see the updated version Latin Modern) and Alexey Kryukov's Old Standard.

oldnick's picture


Decimosexto NF (plus Italic)
Igvaoeonic Oldestype NF
John Alden NF
Maple Leaf Rag NF
McKenna Handletter NF
Ragged Write NF (plus Italic)

Joshua Langman's picture

That "distressed" quality is an artifact of the scanning, not the printing. You are largely seeing the pixelation resulting from the low resolution of the scans. You could easily replicate this by choosing any font you like, printing something in it, photocopying it a few times (copy the copy repeatedly), and the scan it at a low resolution. You can probably also fake it in Photoshop etc.

The difference between the pages of the Jstor article is that the first page is a PDF generated directly in software with vector-based fonts, and the second is a PDF of a raster image scanned from paper. Make sense?

Sinusoid's picture

Awesome, I suspected scanning was the culprit, but I wasn't sure.

Sorry if this is mentioned in an FAQ somewhere (I looked, but couldn't find anything), but on there any tutorials on how to make a font from an image, i.e. if I wanted to use a low resolution scan of "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" to create a font so that I don't have to print and copy repeatedly for every piece of text I want to write.

hrant's picture

You can do all kinds of effects on rendered text (with Photoshop) but if you want a certain style of font to come out a certain distressed way directly you'll need a font designed like that. Just asking: is it possible you might have a budget to have such a custom font made? If so there are a number of regulars here who can do it for you, including yours truly: hpapazian at gmail dot com


Sinusoid's picture

I'm currently a university student living off a meager stipend, so I don't really have any budget for this >_>. Also, it's for a non-commercial class project, so I wouldn't really feel comfortable paying someone else to do part of it.

hrant's picture

There are free font editors where you can import scan-and-traced letters and form a font. Just know: it's not easy getting acceptable results.

Hopefully you can find a font that comes close enough to what you need.


oldnick's picture

Hrant! Way to weed out the freeloaders! You rule, dude!

A simpler method.

1. Rasterize the type as grayscale at 300dpi.
2. Apply a Gaussian Blur of 3 to 8 pixels (depending on the font).
3. Adjust LEVELS to pure black and white.
4. Convert to BITMAP.
5. Duplicate layer, and use DISSOLVE to add noise.
6. Flatten and print.

Have fun: this method is totally free. Consider donating…


You cheap bastard.

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