I'm tinkering with a small booklet that contains an ancient Buddhist sutta text and modern commentary, interweaved in a form of reading monologue: some sutta text, some commentary, more sutta text, and so forth.

For the sutta text I thought to use Caslon (link) but can't quite come up with a font for the modern commentary. Something light and sans-serif, perhaps, even italic?

If not Caslon and a light sans-serif, then what other pairings would make sense? Somehow I'm not drawn to using normal/bold combination of the same font though.

EDIT After I've accepted Andrew Leach's answer, I started poking around FontShop for a while. I quite like the proposal of using the same family in serif/sans, and for example Milo (link) seems to make for a legible reading type. The old sutta text set in Milo Serif Medium:

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and descriptive commentary in the lighter and more modern looking Milo Light Italic:

enter image description here

In that case, should I use size variations of Milo Light Italic for headings? There won't be any more than chapter headings. What about table of content, and opening pages?

2 Answers 2


One of the problems with Caslon is that it's very old-fashioned. That is obviously what has attracted you to using it, but its age and the style of the time is that the tracking is naturally quite wide:


When trying to get a sans to go with that, which is a good idea, you need to consider the letter-shapes (like the high cross-bar on e and the upward slope of the bowl of a and perhaps the little tail of u):

Rosemary Samuels

But you also need to consider x-height (this sans is too great) and although the overall width here is similar, each letter is wider and natural tracking is reduced. It may be possible to use a font like this — this is Rosemary Samuels — and tweak its metrics so that the letters are slightly narrower and they are spaced a little further apart.

Pehaps something like Linotype Projekt would do, although this doesn't appear to come in a lighter weight than this, which may need a heavier version of Caslon.

Linotype Projekt

On the other hand, if you can discount Caslon, there are a number of families which are available in both serif and sans form: those are bound to match. These are a couple of my favourites:


Scala Scala Sans


Calluna Calluna Sans

All images from MyFonts.com

  • 1
    Thank you Andrew! If I was to use, say, Caluna, in both serif and sans-serif form, is the visual distinction visible enough? It may be less strenuous to read when it comes from the same font family. Hmm..
    – Jens
    Feb 4, 2014 at 10:35
  • Calluna comes in a lot of weights. You might use Calluna Sans Light, for example. Feb 7, 2014 at 11:09
  • Hmm.. a Scala Sans Light (maybe italic) and a Serif Regular. That might work nicely, I'll play around with that. Perhaps a more general question: if a font misses a certain glyph, should I just contact the foundry?
    – Jens
    Feb 8, 2014 at 6:56
  • @Jens No harm in asking! I don't think Scala is too bad though. Feb 8, 2014 at 10:08

Try Lato http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/lato

enter image description here

Or Carto Gothic

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Or District Pro Thin https://philsfonts.com/dl/district_thin_pro.zip

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Or Lane http://moorstation.org/typoasis/designers/lab/k_m.htm

enter image description here

  • ...you mean to pair, or for headings? Or both?
    – Jens
    Feb 16, 2014 at 2:47
  • T would use the first two as headings i.e. if i want to have two different styles of headings, then Caslon + any of these. And the rest for the description.
    – kunl
    Feb 16, 2014 at 4:38

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