Among the first fonts issued by Adobe Systems under its “Originals” program was an adaptation of the letters inscribed on the base of Trajan’s column in Rome. I had a copy of Adobe Trajan on my computer as long ago as 1996, and the fonts have since been bundled with so many software packages that most users—knowingly or not—own the fonts.

I’m not entirely certain what it says about me as a designer of books that I have—as best I can recall—never used Adobe Trajan in one of my projects. No doubt there have been at least a few opportunities to use the font, yet a quick scan of the books on my shelves offers not a single instance.

To my eye, it is comparatively difficult to use Trajan well and oddly easy to use it badly. The font harmonizes poorly with most text faces, and its refined scale and extreme...


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