Hard font identification problem: Design of Everyday Things

I recently disovered the existence of this design stackexchange, reviving my hope to maybe resolve a font identification problem that I had a long while back, but that I was never able to solve (or actually, get the internet to solve, because I myself do not really know a lot about fonts..) (So yes, BTW, I did try, I would think, pretty much all font identification sites online, at least at the time.)

The font in question is the one featured in the image below, which is a little assembly of screenshots taken, as the book is partly online on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Design-Everyday-Things-Donald-Norman/dp/1452654123). I recommend the book, by the way 🙂

I find the font, and in particular its italics, to be quite beautiful—if a bit strange. I highlighted some of my key delights of its italics in the image:

  • how unnaturally large the capitals look in comparison to the lowercase letters, because the latter are so horizontally compressed into one another;
  • specifically how rigidly parallel/straight the capital M is, which seems to contradict typographic principles, but which I actually quite love;
  • the ff/fi ligatures;
  • not a delight, but maybe a clue as to its origin: the horrible kerning in “don’t”.

Does anybody have a clue which font this might be? And why it is so peculiar, or maybe just why I might think it is peculiar?


I think the book is mostly set in Palatino:

From the book:

image from book

A recent version of Palatino:

Palatino Bold

(The book is available in facsimile online at archive.org).

Since the book was published in 1988, that’s probably too early for digital setting, but too late for letterpress… Perhaps a version of Palatino (phototypesetting) had an inline old-school true italic (narrower than Roman characters).

It doesn’t help that Palatino was one of the more copied fonts of the 20th century.

It’s difficult to find a similar italic on the web. Maybe it just fell out of fashion and didn’t feature so much when fonts were digitized…

Source : Link , Question Author : Kelley van Evert , Answer Author : daycaster

Leave a Comment