Text font recommendation

It’s a fine typeface, but the problem with Times is, as Matthew Butterick puts it, is that it “is not a font choice so much as the absence of a font choice.” Because it is so pervasive, and a default font for so long, it carries the connotation that the user just took the easy way out.

Lots of publishers used in it in the 90s when they were using SCORE, but SCORE was basically limited to PS level 1 and level 2 fonts IIRC. (This isn’t 100% true as a woman I used to work for figured a way to use ITC Galliard for her own work, but that involved some hackery I think.) Anyway, there are obviously lots of other choices now.

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I have to disagree: although it’s designed to save space in block text, as far as lyrics are concerned, it’s quite wide and has a tendency to distort note spacing. It’s not even in my Top 10.

If you must, use Finale Lyrics, which is a condensed version of Times.


Sorry to pile on, but Times is simply not a good choice, for all the reasons mentioned!

More layout specific than font specific, but I always tell students to assume their music will have to be sightread in terrible light by a sub who’s already had 3 glasses of wine. If it’s not notated clearly enough for that situation, then it’s not clear! (Obviously something like piano music that will be practiced until memorized is a different scenario, but you get the idea)


I prefer Times New Roman Bold for tempo indications because it resembles the traditional font that one sees in a lot of hand-engraved music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and for this reason meets FredGUnn’s requirement for invisibility. Here is a comparison of the font from the complete Brahms edition (Breitkopf and Haertel) on the left and Times New Roman Bold on the right. While it is certainly not identical, I haven’t found anything that gives a closer feeling of the old font and I think it actually improves upon it. And it could have a slightly wider spacing if desired.

Old tempo indicaton font vs TNR

Once you’re under the spell of the lower case e of Garamond you’re lost for any further arguments :wink:

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