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Suggestions for a good sans-serif font to go with (complement) EB Garamond? Math and non-Western European support are not required. Text is fiction, not academic or scientific. English with an occasional word or phrase in French.

I'm using LuaLaTeX from TexLive 2013 on Windows 7 but that should not matter.

Too many choices, too little time.

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Like adding a skyscraper in the background of Monna Lisa. ;-) Seriously, EB Garamond is a baroque era font, and I'd never use a sans serif font along with it. Welcome to TeX.SX! I'm certain you'll get answers, but not from me on this topic. ;-) – egreg Jun 28 '13 at 15:15
Excellent point! – Bill Meahan Jun 28 '13 at 15:59
Not even baroque but renaissance, to be accurate, so one epoch earlier. – georgd Jul 1 '13 at 8:29
Maybe you could also try to use upper case letters, small caps or italics like for example in classic thesis – harry haller Sep 16 at 19:06

5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Assuming the usage will be for headers or elements like folios, my choice would be Optima, which has a classical structure and so won't clash too much. If that's not to your liking, Syntax is a choice advocated on Typophile for this sort of thing, but its higher x-height would require some scaling down.

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If you don't mind an organic sans serif, you could use Linux Biolinum which is part of the libertine package; Libertine is a more modern (but still classical) typeface than Garamond, but the pairing still works rather well in my opinion (and if you want to pair a Garalde typeface with a sans serif, you probably don't care that much about period accuracy) -- although I wouldn't use bold sans (a double anachronism) for headers:

\usepackage[sf,scale=0.95]{libertine} % sets biolinum as sf only 
\section*{\sffamily\mdseries Lorem Ipsum Redux}
Cras viverra metus rhoncus sem. \textsf{Nulla et lectus vestibulum} urna fringilla ultrices.

biolinum sample

The current libertine package automatically uses otf by loading fontspec if the document is compiled using xelatex or lualatex, but the above works using pdflatex as well.

If you prefer a more classical sans serif, or really would like to use bold sans, you can try Pablo Impallari's Quattrocento Sans:

\section*{\sffamily Lorem Ipsum Redux}

quattrocento sample

I think the typeface is okay for headings even in bold, but too wide to use in the text body.

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Another good choice could be Myriad or Frutiger. Myriad and Minion come with Adobe Reader, and work quite well together (see What best combination of fonts for Serif, Sans, and Mono do you recommend?). There are plenty of nice choices, though. If you don't need bold, Calluna Sans is free, as well as Fontin Sans.

EB Garamond With Myriad Pro EB Garamond With Myriad Pro

Minion and Myriad (bold) Minion and Myriad

Minion and Myriad (regular): Minion and Myriad regular

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Myriad Semibold might be an option, too. – harry haller Sep 16 at 18:58

You haven't told us just how the text strings set in serif and sans-serif will be juxtaposed. If the serif and sans-serif text strings can occur side by side in running text, I'd apply the following criteria to guide my search for a suitable sans-serif: (a) match the x-height of the Roman font (very easy to achieve via fontspec's option Scale=MatchLowercase), (b) the sans-serif font shouldn't be all that compressed, (c) it should feature a dual-level g (as opposed to a single-level g employed by Helvetica and Myriad), (d) it should have fairly slender strokes (unlike, say, Gill sans), and (e) still look sufficiently different from Garamond.

For my own writing work that involves Garamond Roman fonts (any "Garalde", really) as the main text font, I've found that Palatino Sans -- yes, there really is such a thing! -- works very well as a companion font.

The following screenshot shows several groups of font choices. In each selection, the first main text line is in EB Garamond, the second in the sans-serif of choice, and the third alternates words using serif and sans-serif. IMNSHO, Palatino Sans harmonizes quite nicely with EB Garamond, while still having a true "sans-serif" character as opposed to, say, Optima. Of course, Optima (also by Hermann Zapf, the creator of Palatino and Palatino Sans) has frequently been called a "serifless Roman font", as opposed to a "true" sans-serif font.

enter image description here

Naturally, this form of juxtaposition of serif and sans-serif fonts assumes that it's meaningful to make such a juxtaposition. If your documents don't contain serif and sans-serif elements in close proximity, the evaluation given in this answer may not be particularly relevant for you.

% !TEX TS-program = lualatex
\setmainfont{EB Garamond}  % EB Garamond is the "roman" font

%% Macro to load sans-serif font and print several test strings

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

\textsf{The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.}

The \textsf{quick} brown \textsf{fox} jumps \textsf{over} the \textsf{lazy} dog.}


\fourlines{Palatino Sans Com}

\fourlines{Optima nova LT Pro}

\fourlines{Linux Biolinum O}

\fourlines{Gill Sans MT}

\fourlines{Helvetica Neue}

\fourlines{Myriad Pro}

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Typewolfe suggests pairing Garamond with Gill Sans, but here (along with two more links that my low reputation wouldn't let me submit) Helvetica (helvet or tgheros in TeX) is recommended as a companion typeface.

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Welcome to TeX.SE. I guess "good" pairing depends crucially on where in the text the serif and sans-serif text strings will be used. If serif and sans-serif will occur side by side in running text, I'd say that Gill Sans would be an awful choice to match up with EB Garamond (any Garalde, really) as Gill Sans is much darker than Garamond. – Mico Sep 16 at 18:23
Good point! Although I can't think of any situation in which I'd want to do that. – Johan Larsson Sep 16 at 18:27

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