Electra vs. Parkinson Electra?

indigirl's picture

Greetings typophiles!

I am an infrequent lurker coming out of the woodwork for the admittedly self-serving purpose of asking for advice :)

I am not a designer. I'm an artist (mostly photography) & Tarot reader. I used to do letterpress artists books in the mid90s & so acquired just enough typographical knowledge to be dangerous.

Long story short, I have been lusting after Electra for a long time & now have the funds to indulge such a purchase. But lo & behold, when I went searching for it, up popped Parkinson Electra too! I know what Electra looks like in the wild—that's why I want it. But I'm not aware of having seen Parkinson Electra in action, & I don't have the typographic eye to tell from samples if I will like it better, the same, or worse.

I want to use it in print collateral & on my website for my Tarot & dreamwork microbusiness. It will be paired with my handwritten pen & ink logo (see attached; I did it as an attachment because "insert image" kept giving me an error).

So, the questions:

1. If you have used/seen Parkinson Electra, how does it compare to Electra?

2. If you could only buy one, which would you pick, & why?

3. The extra credit question: Is there a strong argument for my *not* using either of them for this purpose? (Other contenders: Adobe Garamond, Sabon, Scala, Minion, all of which I already have. Old style figures a must.)

Thanks in advance for all advice, opinions, discussion...

7P SCRIPT LOGO small.jpg45.23 KB
hrant's picture

There are some important differences.
See: www.typophile.com/node/95316

Also, make sure it renders well as a webfont.


dberlow's picture


dberlow's picture

First, what do the cards tell you?

There are a lot detailed differences, but the main difference I know is that the old one has heavier caps to l.c. like older faces, while Jim's updated that I think...

I think this is a great use. When I class types for the occult this is one of them.

indigirl's picture

very funny, dberlow :)

I was kinda hoping to hear what overall impression the Parkinson gives on the page. When looking at a paragraph in Electra & a paragraph in Parkinson Electra, what changes? I can see & read about the details but, as I said, lack the eye to translate that information into "what will it actually look like?"

Karl Stange's picture

You can use Monotype's web font service to generate sample paragraphs in each one:

Parkinson Electra


You can also see how each would look in a web site.

oldnick's picture

I would consult your Tarot cards in this matter…

indigirl's picture

Aha, thank you Karl. I don't know how I managed to miss that before. I was only finding very limited one-line samples on other sites.

I would still welcome any reports from folks who have used both & can speak to the differences in overall effect.

As for asking the cards: I wonder if anyone has ever thrown cards about font choices before?! The tarot is a tool of metaphor & archetype, & so is typography in many ways, so it may actually be worth a try :)

indigirl's picture

Cool. I can just see it now: "you have Gill Sans crossing Bembo, with Bodoni in the past & Archer in the future..."

But what does it mean?!!

Oh, the mysteries!

Anyway: the sample paragraphs on fonts.com are very instructive. I can see how the Parkinson addresses problems that folks have pointed out about the earlier digital Electra (I believe "anemic" has been a popular description) & if I were setting a book I might prefer it. For my purposes the spaciousness & lightness of Electra seem more appropriate.

In print, anyway. I'm not crazy about either one as a web font.

David Vereschagin's picture

Yes, “anemic” would be one word to describe all the older digital versions of Electra, which all seem to have been made forgetting about the ink spread, which today is much less than it was back when Electra was originally designed. I love Electra, but Parkinson Electra is the only digital version I know of that would be usable for print as a text face. On the web I would use Electra cautiously only for large display type.


ncaleffi's picture

Interesting thread. I can't tell the difference between the old Electra and Parkinson's version, but as alternative approach you could try to look for an historical link. For example: since the first documented, Modern appearance of Tarot seems to have been in mid-15th century Europe, namely Northern Italy and France, an old-style ("Venetian") typeface would be appropriate. Think of Jenson or - why not - Arno. Sabon and Adobe Garamond would also work efficiently, though their original models came a bit later.

Another historical moment related to Tarot history is 18th century France, with the Tarot de Marseille. In this case, the digital Monotype Fournier - or its contemporary rendition, Corundum - could be a working font. I have used Fournier for a record cover related to Tarot, with good results I think.

The hand written logo is handsome, by the way.

indigirl's picture

David: so you would give up the signature f of Electra for the overall improvements of Parkinson Electra? I can't help feeling like that f got the short end of the stick, so to speak. See, this is why it's good I'm here, to listen to professionals who can see the forest while I'm stuck on the trees :)

Also thanks for confirming my feeling about the web usage of these.

btw, I notice (& appreciate) your curly quotes—even in a forum post! Now that is Hard. Core.

ncaleffi: Thank you! I really appreciate the Tarot-informed ideas. Will go have a look at all the faces you mentioned.

I have been looking at a lot of Art Nouveau design while thinking about this, because the deck I use (the ever-popular Rider-Waite-Smith deck) is just over 100 years old & has strong Nouveau influences. At the same time I want an overall contemporary flavor—hence no Mucha lettering; I think a lot of my collleagues get very stuck on "ancient wisdom" & so forth, so their branding looks like it belongs at the Renaissance Faire. Not a bad thing in & of itself, but it's just not me, & it's not my clients either.

& I'm glad you like the logo!

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