New release: Darby Serif

Darby Serif Display romans in six weights
Darby Serif Display italics in six weights
Darby Serif Text romans in four weights
Darby Serif Text italics in four weights

Darby Serif is a contemporary design by Paul Barnes with Dan Milne, first appearing in 2017 as the text face in the redesign of La Repubblica in Rome by Francesco Franchi and Angelo Rinaldi. The companion face to Darby Sans, Darby Serif comes in two related families, Text and Display. It is a serious family with an underlying beauty that, like the sans, shows the influence of the eighteenth-century lettering and type tradition in Britain.

Darby Serif Text
Like Darby Sans, Darby Serif has its roots in British lettering and typefaces in the Eighteenth Century, for example the faces of Isaac Moore, later
Compared to a serif face like Brunel, made more for book and editorial typography, Darby Serif has the proportions of a newspaper face, with a large x-height and reduced ascenders and descenders.
Some of the key characteristics of Darby Serif: a stiff upper shoulder; the flat inside of ball terminals; the curved top of the bowl of the a; the open g with flat terminal of the open bowl.

Darby Serif Text was created as a face for continuous reading matter and the needs of news organisations, both in print and online. With its robust structure and large x-height, it is economical for setting text, working well at smaller sizes. The descenders are short and compact, allowing tight leading. In design, the forms are a cross between the Transitional and Modern styles, with an obvious vertical stress. Serifs are reduced to simple angled slabs with small bevels, softening the shapes slightly, yet giving the face a rational, modern style. The terminals are sharp balls with flat internal lines, reducing the form to the minimum. 

    At the heart of the form is the influence of the eighteenth-century British tradition, as shown in the work of Baskerville, Wilson, and Moore. The shoulder of the a, h, n, and m are all stiff, and the upper curves are flatter in form. Details, like the curved top of the a’s lower bowl and the open-bowled g’s flattened terminals, are all found in the faces of Moore.

Darby Serif is a true cursive italic and has a steeper bowl than the slanted roman italic of the Sans.
Darby Serif includes both proportional and tabular figures (shown here) designed for complicated typographic problem solving.
The family also includes non-lining tabular figures.
The four weights of Darby Serif Text, with matching italics.

While the Sans italic takes on the form of a slanted roman, the Serif italic (like Darby Sans Poster) is a true cursive. At a greater angle than the sans, the italic is like its roman counterpart, in that it is an exercise in simplification. Its wide and open shapes make the Serif italic a very legible form.


Darby Serif Text has four weights: Roman, Medium, Semibold, and Bold. Designed for complex typographic problems, it includes small capitals and both lining and non-lining figures in proportional and tabular styles. The Text family is perfect not just for news, but also for editorial and book typography, as well as for general graphic design.

Darby Serif Display romans.
Darby Serif Display italics.
The difference between the Display and Text is shown in the contrast and also the reduced size of bevels.
The Display has larger ascenders and descenders than the Text.

With tighter spacing and higher contrast, Darby Serif Display is typical of headline faces, making it ideal for sizes above 24 point. As vertical economy is not as of paramount importance as in the Text, the ascenders and descenders are longer. Additionally, the serifs are finer and the size of the beveled bracketing is reduced to a barely-perceptible minimum. With six weights, it gives designers a wider palette than Text, a spectrum ranging from a delicate light weight to an emphatic black. This is ideal for where a wide scope of weights is required, from newspaper and magazine headlines, to chapter headings in book design.

Darby Serif Display and Darby Serif Text are designed based on the same skeleton as Darby Sans Poster and Darby Sans.
The Italic variants of Darby Serif and Darby Sans.

Darby Serif is a welcome addition to the Commercial Type Library; the Text perfect for small sizes and running copy, and the Display variant for headlines and large sizes. Its roots give it a quiet beauty, while its sharpness and simplification lend it modernity. With its Sans companion, it is now a family perfect for multiple uses: from the serious Serif Text, to the stark sharp elegance of the Sans Poster.


New release: Darby Sans by Paul Barnes & Dan Milne

Commercial Type is delighted to announce the release of Darby Sans, a contemporary family of two related sans serifs: one is the functional Darby Sans; the other a more delicate and refined display version for large sizes, where the contrast is dramatically higher. Drawn by Paul Barnes together with Dan Milne, the roots of Darby lie in the British tradition of lettering and typefounding that be...

Darby for Wallpaper*

Iconic British style and interiors magazine Wallpaper* has debuted a complete redesign with their September 2013 issue. The redesign was carried out by new creative director Sarah Douglas and art director Lee Belcher. The new type palette features Darby, a brand new typeface by Paul Barnes completed for this redesign, plus Berton Hasebe's Portrait, which is now complete and will be released in ...

Eugenio, three related families for La Repubblica in Rome

The team of designers at Commercial Type recently worked to create a new typographic palette for the redesign of La Repubblica, a popular national daily newspaper in Rome, Italy. Combining three complete typefaces under the unifying theme of being uniquely Italian and refreshingly stylish; the Eugenio family consists of Eugenio Serif, Eugenio Sans, and Eugenio Text.