This month, we welcome the Eaves Cohort to UX Academy! They’re named after Mrs Eaves, a serif typeface created by Zuzana Licko. 

The font’s name refers to Sarah Eaves, wife of John Baskerville (1706-1775), the printer and type designer responsible for the timeless Baskerville typeface. In technical terms, both Baskerville and Mrs Eaves are transitional serifs. The “transition” referred to here is between old-style serifs like Garamond, and neo-classical typefaces like Bodoni.

If we compare Garamond with Baskerville, we can see that Garamond (old style) has diagonal stress, medium stroke contrast, and a relatively low x-height. Baskerville (transitional) has vertical stress, slightly higher stroke contrast, and a relatively high x-height.

Zuzana Licko, co-founder of the Emigre type foundry, released Mrs Eaves in 1996, and the typeface rapidly became popular amongst print designers. It has a lower x-height than Baskerville, making it more suitable for certain applications. In a 2002 interview with design magazine Eye, Licko explained the thinking behind Mrs Eaves:

I think Mrs Eaves was a mix of just enough tradition with an updated twist. It’s familiar enough to be friendly, yet different enough to be interesting. Due to its relatively wide proportions, as compared with the original Baskerville, it’s useful for giving presence to small amounts of text such as poetry, or for elegant headlines and for use in print ads. It makes the reader slow down a bit and contemplate the message.

Mrs Eaves in use. Image credit: Emigre

The low x-height probably explains why Mrs Eaves hasn’t been more widely used on the web; in digital settings, large x-heights tend to be preferred for their high readability across different devices and screen sizes. A follow-up—Mrs Eaves XL—was released in 2009, helping to accommodate the needs of today’s digital designers.

Find out more:

More top typefaces

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Andrew Wilshere


Designer, Writer, and Mentor

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