The angle of the 'upright' strokes in Garamond italic is different between capitals and lowercase.

See, for instance, the discrepancy between the "I" and the "t" of "Italic" in the following picture.

enter image description here

This seems bizarre to me. I was reading a book set in Garamond the other day and found this quirk in the italic angle really distracting! Yet Garamond is a hugely popular font, so it's unlikely to be an accident.

Why did the designer do it like this? And even if the designer was having a bad day (!), then why do so many publishers/designers/etc continue to use this font so widely despite this oddity?

  • 2
    Are you in fact infering that not all designers have good taste. This is in fact true in my experience quite a lot of designers arent really good at design. This applies to all design positions not just graphics design.
    – joojaa
    Feb 10, 2015 at 10:35
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    Italics are used to show emphasis. I suppose distracting the eye would be a form of emphasizing something. So in that sense the design would be "good". Although as you note, the effect can go too far and distract from the whole. As to why the designer chose to design italics that way - only the designer knows (and perhaps they only partially know).
    – bemdesign
    Feb 10, 2015 at 12:29
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    Where'd you get that Garamond? There are a ton of variations on "Garamond". The foundry producing it would have a great deal to do with overall quality.
    – Scott
    Feb 15, 2015 at 19:45
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    Scott is correct. That Garamond is wonky because it's a really sloppy version of Garamond. Looks like a freebie knock-off where they just slanted the regular caps to make italics.
    – DA01
    Feb 17, 2015 at 21:07
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    That is probably Monotype Garamond 2.40 TTF which is installed with some MS Office packages. I currently have it on my system. ( microsoft.com/typography/fonts/font.aspx?FMID=1305 ) I have approximately 1 gabillion garamond versions and that is the only one that looks like the OP's image.
    – Yorik
    Feb 20, 2015 at 22:38

6 Answers 6


Claude Garamond started designing typefaces in the 1500s, a time when both type design and technology was very different from today. Letters had to be cut into metal by hand, and so they were much more prone to imperfections and unevenness than today's digital type.

Italics, in particular, were based on a different kind of writing, cursive, which was more handwritten and calligraphic.

Lastly,talics for some Garamond typefaces might have been designed by an altogether different designer, Robert Granjon.

These three factors probably combined to produce this "wonky" italic Garamond.


Because (most) Garamonds follow the tradition. In the 16th century, the time when italic type were evolved, italic fonts weren't created to supplement a typeface but as stand-alone font, used for continuous text. Back in these days they used upright roman capitals for the capitals of the italic type, because they haven't "invented" italic capitals.

Here's a scan from the 1501 edition of Virgil (set by Aldus Manutius, the typecutter was Francesco Griffo). This is probably the first text set in italic type. (Please keep in mind that handwritten italic, called "chancery hand", is much older!)

Aldus Manutius, Virgil from 1501

Sources: Wikipedia: Italic Type; fonts.com: Italics; Indra Kupferschmid – Buchstaben kommen selten allein

Palaeography is very complex and also a bit confusing.

(And it doesn't have anything to do with bad taste, as joojaa suggested!)

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    This is the only correct answer. Also seen in more contemporary fonts such as Novarese; look at its italics! Not nearly as unsettling as the Garamond shown here 😊 Dauphin is a script font with similar features.
    – Jongware
    Feb 17, 2015 at 21:13

The font's creators wanted historical accuracy over what looks right to us now.

The model for the Garamond installed with Office, Monotype Garamond, is actually the work of Jean Jannon (misattributed to Garamond - long story). You can see a 1928 print of his original in this pdf on page 36, wonky italic capitals and all. nihilistenhymne's answer is not quite right - italic capitals had been introduced long before he started work. Why are his so wonky? I don't know, but my guess is that the idea was that the angles would help letters fit in with lower-case text, and the italic capitals weren't intended to be used in all-caps settings all in one go where the unevenness is obvious. Some italics from the time had less wonky characters - this one from 1571 is a bit more even.

It's not a mistake. Monotype's designers could have cleaned up the design if they'd wanted to - this was the same design team that did Times New Roman, which has very even capitals with constant slant angle in italic - they just wanted to accurately replicate the original.

There can never be one true "Garamond" digital font - it's not 100% clear what fonts Garamond did and didn't cut, those he did cut don't all look the same, and I believe that it's not completely certain that he ever did an italic at all (although he did print with one, so clearly he wasn't averse to them - see Vervliet's books on the topic if you're near a good university library). Basically, "Garamond" is really code for "it's based on French printing between 1530 and about 1620." So any modern "Garamond" font is an interpretation - what are you basing it on, and how much wonkiness are you going to keep? Some versions (Adobe's, Stempel's) go for an italic with regularised capitals, others don't.

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    Thanks Copilot. Regarding: "the italic capitals weren't intended to be used in all-caps settings all in one go where the unevenness is obvious" -- actually the unevenness is most obvious when you mix italic upper case and italic lower case. See the word Italic in my original post. May 11, 2016 at 9:46
  • Would you have more references/sources for this? I find this all very interesting :)
    – Hanna
    May 11, 2016 at 18:25
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    Yes, well - I never said it worked! Jannon was a freethinking sort who came to engraving metal type quite late in life, and it's quite possible that he had some cranky theory about this. A very famous historian of printing named Stanley Morison suggested that the goal was to avoid having a constant slant angle to make it stand out more from the regular - I sort of see the idea of that suggestion. Mark Simonson calling it nervy and hyperactive sounds about right to me. And Warde in that article calls it fragile. It was an odd font to bundle with Office.
    – Copilot
    May 17, 2016 at 16:29
  • For references, see books by Vervliet (not available online - you'll need to go to a university library) or Morison, Towards an Ideal Italic.
    – Copilot
    May 17, 2016 at 16:33

There are three possible reasons for why the designer did it.

1: I wonder how it would look if.... Oooo I like it!

This happens a lot in design: someone tries something just to see what it is like, thinks they came up with something cool, and publish it, whether it is actually good design or not. Other people see it and also think it is cool at that is how it spreads. Comic sans did a similar thing among non-designers offering a friendly childish look that some people adored. Good design can be subjective, and in this case a lot of people though that this was a good font.

2: There is a technical reason

In this case I have a hunch there isn't, but unless someone can find it, the only way to know would be to ask the designer. The reason why I think it was reason #1 is that as you mentioned it is distracting and appears to detract and not add from the design.

3: Mistake

As @joojaa pointed out, the designer could have made a mistake. It seems unlikely that they wouldn't have noticed, but you never know.

Why something with "bad" design can spread:

  1. People have bad taste
  2. Bad designs and fonts are often more readily available, Comic sans would have died if it wasn't lurking in every copy of word and power point.
  • To be honest there is a third one. Mistake, such as some technical process skewed the letters a second time. Maybe that would be 2 then idunno,
    – joojaa
    Feb 15, 2015 at 19:32
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    I like your answer (+1) but, to be fare, the hated Comic Sans was created by Vincent Connare to look like the font used in comic books, which it does. It was meant to be used in "Microsoft Bob", a comic-like user interface for Windows. He did not finish it on time but, since it was done, the developers started using it in other projects. Eventually it made its way to be the official font of the OEM version of W95 and Publisher and that is why it got so much exposure. The intention of the designer was correct and the initial (intended) application was correct, but it was unfortunately misused.
    – cockypup
    Feb 25, 2015 at 18:28

Actually the version with the wonky italic is only "Monotype Garamond". Other versions (Adobe, Apple, ITC, as far as I know) don't show this "deviation".

  • Hello Antonio, welcome to GDSE. I think what you are saying is already covered in other answers. There is really no use repeating information. I'd suggest you take the tour to get to know our workings a little better. Feel free to browse the site, ask questions and maybe leave an answer.
    – PieBie
    Feb 23, 2021 at 19:17

There are many differents versions of Garamond font. You have request help for Adobe's version. This version is based on Robert Granjon's design. There are differences between version.

Here you have a little article about this (sorry, but it's in spanish) http://es.letrag.com/tipografia.php?id=10

  • 3
    Welcome to Graphic Design SE. Your answer does not really answer the question, as the existence of alternative versions that do not exhibit the phenomenon in question still leaves the question why somebody would design a version that does exhibit this phenomenon. If this is answered on the linked page, you should briefly recapture the relevant aspects here, as we do not like link-only answers here (even if the linked material is in English).
    – Wrzlprmft
    Feb 10, 2015 at 10:10
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    @user38206 Thanks for pointing out that there are multiple versions. Upon further investigation, it appears that some versions have the wonky italics (e.g. Adobe's) and some don't (e.g. Apple's). Feb 10, 2015 at 14:06

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