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I am allowed to use one of these fonts (or the three of them if I want) to edit a document.

Here is the list of the Bembo fonts I have :

Bembo-Bold.otf                  Bembo-ExtraBoldOsF.otf
Bembo-BoldExpert.otf            Bembo-Italic.otf
Bembo-BoldItalic.otf            Bembo-ItalicExpert.otf
Bembo-BoldItalicExpert.otf      Bembo-ItalicOsF.otf
Bembo-BoldItalicOsF.otf         Bembo-SC.otf
Bembo-BoldOsF.otf               Bembo-Semibold.otf
Bembo-Expert.otf                Bembo-SemiboldExpert.otf
Bembo-ExtraBold.otf             Bembo-SemiboldItalic.otf
Bembo-ExtraBoldExpert.otf       Bembo-SemiboldItalicExpert.otf
Bembo-ExtraBoldItalic.otf       Bembo-SemiboldItalicOsF.otf
Bembo-ExtraBoldItalicExpert.otf Bembo-SemiboldOsF.otf
Bembo-ExtraBoldItalicOsF.otf    Bembo.otf

here is the list of the Bembo Book fonts I have :

BemboBookMTPro-Bold.otf         BemboBookMTPro-Italic.otf
BemboBookMTPro-BoldIt.otf       BemboBookMTPro-Regular.otf

and here is the list of the Garamond Premier Pro fonts available :

GaramondPremrPro-Bd.otf         GaramondPremrPro-MedCapt.otf
GaramondPremrPro-BdCapt.otf     GaramondPremrPro-MedDisp.otf
GaramondPremrPro-BdDisp.otf     GaramondPremrPro-MedIt.otf
GaramondPremrPro-BdIt.otf       GaramondPremrPro-MedItCapt.otf
GaramondPremrPro-BdItCapt.otf   GaramondPremrPro-MedItDisp.otf
GaramondPremrPro-BdItDisp.otf   GaramondPremrPro-MedItSubh.otf
GaramondPremrPro-BdItSubh.otf   GaramondPremrPro-MedSubh.otf
GaramondPremrPro-BdSubh.otf     GaramondPremrPro-Smbd.otf
GaramondPremrPro-Capt.otf       GaramondPremrPro-SmbdCapt.otf
GaramondPremrPro-Disp.otf       GaramondPremrPro-SmbdDisp.otf
GaramondPremrPro-It.otf         GaramondPremrPro-SmbdIt.otf
GaramondPremrPro-ItCapt.otf     GaramondPremrPro-SmbdItCapt.otf
GaramondPremrPro-ItDisp.otf     GaramondPremrPro-SmbdItDisp.otf
GaramondPremrPro-ItSubh.otf     GaramondPremrPro-SmbdItSubh.otf
GaramondPremrPro-LtDisp.otf     GaramondPremrPro-SmbdSubh.otf
GaramondPremrPro-LtItDisp.otf   GaramondPremrPro-Subh.otf
GaramondPremrPro-Med.otf        GaramondPremrPro.otf

Choosing between them is becoming nearly impossible to me because I really like the three of them. So to make my choice, I decided to base it on technicalities.

  • First question : Which one would you recommend and why?
  • Second question : Which one do you believe is the most comfortable for reading when printed?
  • Third question : Which one offers the the biggest amount of exploitable features when using LuaLaTex?
  • Fourth question : How do I exploit all of their features (swashes, small caps, small italic caps, glyphs I can't type with the keyboard, etc.)?

I ask the fourth question because my university bought them all and they cost an arm & a leg, so I really intend to get the most out of them. For example I can't get the swashes to work (or any other feature in fact). For swashes I tried this :

\setmainfont{Garamond Premier Pro}
Quad Qed

Quad Qed

But the swash does not work. I also tried to set the options like this :

\setmainfont[Contextuals=Swash]{Garamond Premier Pro}
Quad Qed

But then the console says this :

* fontspec warning: "icu-feature-not-exist-in-font"
* OpenType feature 'Contextuals=Swash' (+cswh) not available for font
* 'GaramondPremrPro' with script 'Latin' and language 'Default'.

Is there something wrong with this font? Also, my document contains a big amount of equations, do you have any advice on the math fonts?

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4 Answers

up vote 20 down vote accepted

There's a technical and an aesthetical side to most of the questions you're asking:

1.1) For your purposes, a tech report with maths etc.: none of them. You'll have trouble finding math supplements that go well with any of these fonts. Yes, there are packages that set out to provide math symbols supposed to look good with »Garamond«, but the huge number fonts with »Garamond« in their names vary considerably in terms of their look.

A package providing TeX support for a Garamond will most likely be geared towards one of the free Garamond versions, such as URW's (an early digitization of the Stempel version from the 1920s). It may be, but IMHO will rather not be suitable for AGPPro ...which is a highly idiosyncratic rendition of C. Garamond's typefaces.

What I suggest, from a technical/practical perspective is: choose a font that comes with sufficient math support out of the box, or one where you're certain that suitable high-quality math support is available (such as MinionPro).

1.2) The three fonts you list are designed as rather faithful renditions of faces created 500 years ago (unlike e.g. TNR, which doesn't have one specific model). They're explicitly citing the aesthetics of that time -- this is the case with the two (very different) Bembo renditions, and it is even more the case with AGPPro. Both AGPPro and BBook are, in addition, designed to reproduce the look of letterpress printing to some degree.

None of this is a problem per se, but typography is not art for art's sake, but rather halfway between an art and a craft IMHO. So you have to make sure your typeface choice is appropriate within the context of your product. Questions like: »what's the message brought across by a document that tries to look like it's been printed in 1540?«, or »what kind of aesthetics is my audience used to?« are the ones you should consider here.

2) The old (1990s) digital renditions of Bembo were infamous for their thin and anemic look in print. They were horrible digitizations of horrible photo-type-izations of a typeface that was, and remains, sublime in hot metal. These digitizations were shunned by most decent typographers, which I understand perfectly well, having compared books set in Bembo from the three typographic eras side by side.

Now all this was supposed to change with Bembo Book. It was advertised as a font that would bring back the look of that hot metal legend. It didn't. It's about eight (?) years ago IIRC, that MT released BBook, but it still hasn't caught on. Yes, the strokes are sturdier, the thinness is gone, but like its predecessors it lacks any sparkle, and, unsuprisingly, comes nowhere near the original that it's (and has to be) measured by. So that's a strict NO for your Bembo Std, and an if-need-be for Bembo Book, in terms of aesthetics and reading comfort.

AGPPro... one guideline (I'm not saying ›rule‹) is that typography is best when it's invisible. Reading comfort is reduced the more the typography (e.g., the typeface) is making the reader aware of its presence. The more you deviate from what readers are used to, or what just »works«, the more this will be the case. Try setting your text ragged-left (!), for example. For typefaces, the equivalent of a left rag would be choosing a particularly idiosyncratic typeface, i.e. one that draws attention to itself (which is what it all boils down to). Within the range of text faces currently on the market, AGPPro is clearly on the idiosyncratic side of the spectrum (which is why it's hardly being used for serious book production).

The other side of that spectrum we might call »inconspicuous« ones and put, say, TNR or Minion there. The degree of perceived idiosyncracy will of course be dependent on what your readers are used to. Computer Modern will look odd to people from the humanities, but will make maths people feel at home. In Germany, Stempel Garamond (unlike AGPPro) is one of the most inconspicuous choices simply because literally generations have been socialized with it in school, while, conversely, New Century Schoolbook (and classicist or »didone« or »modern« faces in general) look weird to most people over here.

I see I need to keep it more concise:

3) what features do you need? I suggest you consider that question first, and then see what fonts might offer it. At the moment, I'm having trouble understanding the role you have in mind for, say, swashes in a tech report ;)

4) as you're already using LuaLaTeX, you already got the most appropriate tool available in the TeX world. ConTeXt might be another good choice. But choose wisely, as jumping ships between the two might be difficult once your project has taken up speed.

Swashes -- I'm afraid you're trying to do something that, by its very nature, won't work. A swash is usually defined as a calligraphy-style embellishment, mainly for capital letters. The »calligraphy« part is important here, as it's the italic cuts of a typeface that make reference to handwriting. And it is, traditionally, only here that you'll find swashes. So unless AGPPro's specimen sheet says otherwise, there'll be no upright swashes in AGPPro. This, on the other hand, works fine (in LuaLaTeX):

\setmainfont[Contextuals=Swash]{Minion Pro}
Quad Qed Jawohl
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And, in case of choosing Minion Pro, the Typoma Minion Math is a high quality math font. –  Manuel Mar 23 '13 at 11:58
> France ...this changes things a lot indeed. In that cultural context, of course, a Garamond will definitely be a lot higher on the list of appropriate faces. That said, I'm still somewhat concerned about the whole maths thing. I'd say, go for Minion, really. AFAIK, there's not one feature in AGPPro that Minion doesn't have, but for Minion there's excellent (!) math support. Plus: it's a font that lots of people use, so you'll get assistance more easily. Plus: it is readable, understandable and nice -- but a lot less historicizing and obstrusive than AGPPro. –  Nils L Mar 23 '13 at 13:39
With maths-related issues, I don't feel competent enough to give reliable answers -- particularly in comparison to the other people around here. You may want to start a new discussion for that (or see if there's one already). Generally speaking, what I find crucial when choosing fonts is: track down books (real ones!) typeset in the fonts you have in mind. This is the only way to a decision you won't regret. There can be worlds between what a font (or a font combination) looks like on screen vs. inkjet, or on digital printing vs. offset, etc. –  Nils L Mar 23 '13 at 16:28
That said -- from a typohile's perspective, and based on what I can see, I'd say that Minion Math is probably going to be a good match for AGGP. Minion is a face with roots in roughly the same period, both are from the same foundry and share the same designer's »handwriting«. So if we assume that Minion Math is the perfect match for Minion, we may also assume that might be pretty good for AGGP as well. If I were you, I'd contact typoma about this. It's a small indie foundry, and you're a potential customer; they'll help you out :) –  Nils L Mar 23 '13 at 16:36
To expand the examples, this and this are two beautiful ones. I don't own the fonts, but I would love to. –  Manuel Mar 24 '13 at 0:34
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Question One

I'd recommend Garamond Premiere Pro. I have it and used it for an early version of LaTeX and Friends. The result looked nice but I wasn't happy with the typewriter and I needed a proper sans serif, which is why I choose a different font (Nexus).

I've seen Bembo before, but I liked Garamond better when I bought it.

Question Two

I haven't seen many long text with Bembo, so all I can say is that Garamond is definitely easy to read.

Question Three


Question Four

You only get the features if the OpenType suppoerts them.

I get the same behaviour as you with a very recent TeXLive installation and XeLaTeX. When I looked at the glyphs, I couldn't find notice any glyphs with swashes.

You can use otfinfo -f (features) to see the features of your font. Here's what I did.

Let's start with getting some basic information about the font.

$  otfinfo -i GaramondPremrPro.otf

Family:              Garamond Premier Pro
Subfamily:           Regular
Full name:           Garamond Premier Pro
PostScript name:     GaramondPremrPro
Preferred family:    Garamond Premier Pro
Mac font menu name:  Garamond Premr Pro
Version:             Version 2.000;PS 2.000;hotconv 1.0.50;makeotf.lib2.0.16970
Unique ID:           2.000;ADBE;GaramondPremrPro
Designer:            Robert Slimbach
Vendor URL:          http://www.adobe.com/type
Trademark:           Please refer to the Copyright section for the font trademark attribution notices.
Copyright:           © 2005, 2007 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved.
License URL:         http://www.adobe.com/type/legal.html
Vendor ID:           ADBE

Next let's check out the features.

$  otfinfo -f GaramondPremrPro.otf

aalt    Access All Alternates
c2sc    Small Capitals From Capitals
calt    Contextual Alternates
case    Case-Sensitive Forms
cpsp    Capital Spacing
dlig    Discretionary Ligatures
dnom    Denominators
frac    Fractions
hist    Historical Forms
kern    Kerning
liga    Standard Ligatures
lnum    Lining Figures
numr    Numerators
onum    Oldstyle Figures
ordn    Ordinals
ornm    Ornaments
pnum    Proportional Figures
salt    Stylistic Alternates
sinf    Scientific Inferiors
size    Optical Size
smcp    Small Capitals
ss01    Stylistic Set 1
ss02    Stylistic Set 2
ss03    Stylistic Set 3
ss04    Stylistic Set 4
subs    Subscript
sups    Superscript
tnum    Tabular Figures
zero    Slashed Zero

Check out the alternate glyphs. There aren't many.

$  otfinfo -g GaramondPremrPro.otf | grep alt


As you can see, the Q has an alternate glyph. The following picture, which I got by running your first MWE shows selecting the feature does work.

Couple of Qs

Finally, you can create a document with all the glyphs in the font.

$ cfftot1 GaramondPremrPro.otf | t1testpage | epstopdf --filter > glyphs.pdf

The following is a snapshot of the first page.

enter image description here

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@jrojasqu: that's another important thing Marc is mentioning here: the relationship between the different faces you're using (if you're planning to use different ones, which may not always be a good idea). So: what other faces are you going to need to accompany your main text face? If you need a monospace, you have to make sure you've got a suitable monospace available that goes well with your Bembo or whatever. Same for sans, etc. A face for which you can't find decent partners is not going to be of much use. –  Nils L Mar 23 '13 at 12:16
@marc-van-dongen When you compiled my first MWE, did you compile using XeLaTeX? Or did you use LuaLaTeX? Because in my case, it works using XeLaTeX, but not at all using LuaLaTeX... –  jrojasqu Mar 23 '13 at 13:43
@jrojasqu I used XeLaTeX. –  Marc van Dongen Mar 23 '13 at 13:45
@MarcvanDongen OK! It all makes sense now! I was starting to believe there was something wrong with my setup... –  jrojasqu Mar 23 '13 at 14:16
@MarcvanDongen I was watching the video on your site about Latex and Friends, and I was wondering what is the math font that you used at minute 2:52? Do you think that font will perform well with Garamond Premier Pro? –  jrojasqu Mar 23 '13 at 14:43
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Which one would you recommend and why?

This is, of course, a matter of taste. Personally I would use Garamond Premier Pro.

Which one do you believe is the most comfortable for reading when printed?

This is, again, a matter of taste. I think both Bembo Book and Garamond Premier Pro will do fine. They are both well-crafted fonts.

Which one offers the the biggest amount of exploitable features when using LuaLaTex?

I've made a quick comparison of all the OpenType features the fonts support:

Feat. Bembo BemboBk Garamond PP Description
aalt        x   x   Access All Alternates
c2sc        x   x   Small Capitals From Capitals
calt        x   x   Contextual Alternates
case        x   x   Case-Sensitive Forms
cpsp            x   Capital Spacing
dlig        x   x   Discretionary Ligatures
dnom        x   x   Denominators
fina            x   Terminal Forms
frac        x   x   Fractions
hist            x   Historical Forms
kern    x   x   x   Kerning
liga        x   x   Standard Ligatures
lnum        x   x   Lining Figures
numr        x   x   Numerators
onum        x   x   Oldstyle Figures
ordn        x   x   Ordinals
ornm            x   Ornaments
pnum        x   x   Proportional Figures
salt        x   x   Stylistic Alternates
sinf            x   Scientific Inferiors
size            x   Optical Size
smcp        x   x   Small Capitals
ss01            x   Stylistic Set 1
ss02            x   Stylistic Set 2
ss03            x   Stylistic Set 3
sups        x   x   Superscript
tnum        x   x   Tabular Figures
zero            x   Slashed Zero

It's clear Garamond Premier Pro has more OpenType features you can use than either Bembo or Bembo Book.

(this is based on the fonts I have here, the features present in your fonts may differ)

How do I exploit all of their features (swashes, small caps, small italic caps, glyphs I can't type with the keyboard, etc.)?

You can exploit all OpenType features with fontspec. I really recommend reading the documentation.

A MWE with the most important bits:


  { Ligatures = TeX ,
    Numbers = OldStyle ,
    %Path = /Path/To/Fonts , % Use when fonts aren't installed on your system
    Extension = .otf }

  [ UprightFont = * ,
    ItalicFont = *-It ,
    BoldFont = *-Bd ,
    BoldItalicFont = *-BdIt ]

\newcommand*\specimen{The Quick brown fox jumps over the sleazy dog, 0123456789.\\}


\noindent Alternates, etc: \\
{\addfontfeature{Style = Historic}\specimen}
{\addfontfeature{Style = Alternate}\specimen}
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> of course, a matter of taste I beg to differ here, radically. The OP's question (+ our answers) is a good example of why choosing a typeface or font is a lot more than that. One's own taste is only one of many factors that play a role here. And it neither should the most important one, nor have we been able to get close to listing all the factors. Typography, as I see it, is more like dressing (when leaving the house), or cooking (for a guest). You don't decide what to do simply based on what you »like«. There's a reason typography is a profession and a subject long books are written on. –  Nils L Mar 23 '13 at 12:58
@Silex Well, I tried the documentation, and I followed every step. Result is : at least for AGPP font, all of its features won't work when compiling with LuaLaTeX, but they work when compiling with XeLaTeX... Seems that at least I have found a compiling winner with XeLaTeX... I just hope that there are no drawbacks. –  jrojasqu Mar 23 '13 at 14:49
@NilsL I completely agree that choosing a good typeface is more than just taste. However, when one has to choose between several good fonts (and I would qualify Bembo Book and Garamond Premier Pro as such) it does come down to taste. Just like in dressing: once one has selected a socially acceptable outfit (eg: jeans and a t-shirt) one can decide the details based on taste (the color/print of/on the shirt). This doesn't mean I dismiss any of the ideas contained in your answer (it's a great), but the question stated the choice was limited between the Bembo and AGPP. –  Silex Mar 23 '13 at 16:02
okay, I can agree here. I must resist, though, to elaborate on why I think that even differences in the color of a shirt can be tiny and irrelevant to some, but be tremendously huge to others, depending on people's passion or sensitivity. –  Nils L Mar 23 '13 at 16:12
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I want to share some information concerning my own question because there are some minor details that have not been said explicitly in this thread. Details I found out just recently :

  • The issue about the swash was partially resolved : when compiling with XeLaTeX, every font feature I tested was there. Which was not the case when compiling with LuaLaTeX. So from this particular point of view compile with XeLaTeX if you want swashes, ligatures, etc, to work "out of the box".

  • Minion Pro from Adobe might be a particularly good alternative to the three fonts from the title. It resembles AGPPro plus it has good math support. What's more, you can use it with "plain" LaTeX, which is good for those of you that do not want to switch to LuaLaTeX or XeLaTeX (only add \usepackage{MinionPro} to the preamble}.

As it was already said by the gentlemen who responded to my question, choosing a particular font is not to be taken lightly. Just that.


  • I recently found (according to my taste) the best combination to edit my document, the details are explained in my answer here (another question I recently posted).

I installed the garamondx font package for LaTeX, this way one can use the AGPPro as the main font, and benefit from the urw-garamond option from the mathdesign package for full Garamond math support. The Garamond font used by the garamondx may not be exactly the same as the AGPPro's but it fits really great. In my humble opinion it is a really good solution for those of you who wish to use AGPPro as the main font.

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