it’s frustrating that i cannot write this in baskerville

aparna nair
2 min readMar 3, 2021


Since our next experiment is based on typography, we were all assigned a font to research.

I was assigned baskerville, a “transitional” typeface originated in the 1750s in England.

Baskerville is derived from an older typeface, Caslon, and was an attempt by John Baskerville to improve readability. He had no initial success, and Baskerville as a font only rose in popularity after being adopted by the Harvard University Press. John Baskerville was something of an inventor, whose experimentation wasn’t only limited to typefaces; he even developed his own “intense black” ink color, and redesigned presses when they couldn’t print in the Baskerville typeface with the crispness he wanted. Because he died much before Harvard’s usage of his font, he was doomed to become yet another artist appreciated more in death than life.

Baskerville is a serif font whose main features and modifications include creating high contrast in the thickness of stroke, as well as the placement of rounder letters on a vertical axis. Its most unique feature is the appearance of the capital Q.

Personally, I’m very picky about fonts with serif; my handwriting is fairly thin and pressed together, and I feel like adding serifs spaces out letters too much and makes them take up more space while not necessarily looking more attractive. I tend to lean towards fonts like Avenir or Nunito, because I like rounded typefaces which retain a sort of cleanness when seen in big blocks of text due to the lack of serif. However, I’m a fan of Baskerville because I think the choice to place circular forms on a strictly vertical axis also conveys a sort of no-nonsensical neatness, and makes it easier to read. I might be wrong theoretically, but I like what I see.