Typefaces I Can’t Live Without: Adobe Myriad Pro

by Joel Friedlander on February 24, 2011 · 27 comments

Post image for Typefaces I Can’t Live Without: Adobe Myriad Pro

The first sans serif typeface I lived with was Univers, and I fell hard. It was first love, after all. At some point I got entranced by the dark charms of the hybrid Optima, an infatuation which had to run its course. Optima was so versatile. Eventually things had to change and I found Frutiger, from one of my favorite type designers. It was as if Adrian Frutiger had only gone halfway with Univers, and now had gone all the way with Frutiger. I was happy.

I didn’t keep track of developments in typography for a few years, and coming back I seemed to have lost half my Frutiger fonts. Instead I started using Myriad, and eventually moved on to Myriad Pro, the Open type version introduced by Adobe in 2000.

Follow the Designers

Myriad was produced by the collaboration of Adobe’s Carol Twombly (a typeface designer I’ve written about before) and Robert Slimbach. Between them they are responsible for many of the most popular typefaces in Adobe’s library. And Myriad certainly sits near the top of the pile.

Myriad Pro

In the Opentype version Myriad Pro now contains 40 fonts in an array of weights and widths. This gives the typographer a palette of colors and variations on the basic letterforms to create designs.

Here’s a way to help identify this typeface: check the unusual cut of the tail of the “e” and the “y” in the large type at the top of the article and compare it to a sample and you’ll quickly be able to tell if it’s Myriad or not.

Myriad Pro type font for self publishers

Like other designs by Twombly and Slimbach, this typeface is modern, energetic and versatile. It’s very adaptable without ever losing its character.

And Popular Too

Myriad has been used by Apple, Wells Fargo Bank, Wal Mart, and LinkedIn. Myriad is an official standard font of the University of Virginia and Loyola University Chicago as well as one of the two official standard fonts of Cambridge University and the primary typeface for University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Ottawa (Wikipedia).

Myriad Pro

I’ve used it in many books in various ways. Captions, running heads and folios, bold chapter opening numbers, or assertive chapter titles all work well in Myriad. Today I designed page layouts for a memoir, and all the display is in Myriad Pro, from Black to Light.

Myriad Pro

Seeing the samples here I hope you’ll get some idea about why I’m so attracted to Myriad, and find ways to use it in almost all my design work. Because it’s been bundled with Adobe Reader at various times, you might have it on your system. Have a look and try it out.

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    { 26 comments… read them below or add one }

    Nada Baroudy December 30, 2014 at 4:35 am

    HI Joel,
    Can myriad be used in the body of an email?


    Joel Friedlander January 2, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Nada, it depends on your email client software. But keep in mind that if the receiver of the email (or their email client) doesn’t support the font, it won’t show up anyway.


    Candice Seti October 16, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Can I use Myriad Pro for the body text in a junior high school dictionary? I was going to use Futura because of the rounded ‘a,’ but this article has made me reconsider.


    Joel Friedlander October 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Personally, I wouldn’t use a sans serif font for the body text, but if you do, Myriad Pro would be a good choice.


    George Thomas March 4, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I had some severe typelove syndrome with this typeface a while back. Used it for EVERYTHING. I mean… everything.
    There’s something really subtle about it.


    Brett May 19, 2013 at 4:28 am

    What are peoples opinions about Andalus font for the text of a book (on parenting and children) ?


    Kurt Krause March 23, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I’m currently exploring some new fonts that I recently purchased from Hoefler & Frere-Jones. Even though some of them are pricey, they are worth a look. Currently I’m using Whitney, Hoefler text and Mercury.


    Joel Friedlander March 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Karl, thanks for the comment. The typefaces are beautiful and I’m sure they will repay the investment. I particularly liked the Whitney sans serif family, and the way the foundry has created different “grades” or weights within the same set widths on Mercury text, a technique I hadn’t seen before.


    Douglas Bonneville February 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Blog Carnival? Post me a link! That was a beast of a post :) It was work and fun and a labor of love.


    Joel Friedlander February 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    There’s a category for “book design and production” and here’s the info. If you have any trouble let me know and we’ll submit it for you:

    Carnival of the Indies


    Douglas Bonneville February 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    I find Frutiger and Myriad nearly interchangeable. Myriad is a touch more casual. Frutiger has a touch more interest and complexity…


    Roger C. Parker February 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Dear Joel:
    I really enjoy your typeface features, reminding me of the richness hidden on my hard drive and hitting the perfect balance of ideas and detail–i.e., you don’t have to be a designer to appreciate your posts.

    How you would compare Myriad to Frutiger…especially as each complements to Minion?

    Keep up the good work. The range of topics you cover is amazing.


    Joel Friedlander February 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Roger, thanks. Frutiger is very similar to Myriad, and I used it for many years. I’ve seen the Myriad / Minion combination, and I also like Myriad with Adobe Caslon and have used that combo often.

    It’s always interesting to me how many people enjoy articles and talk about typefaces. Thanks for joining in.


    Jeff February 27, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    What do you think of FF Meta? Although I’m not a designer, I find typefaces delightful, though I’ll have to admit preferring serif to sans serif. Right now I’m in love with Minion Pro. Seems like a font that will do anything. I’m not certain, but I believe that a fair amount of institutions and designers often pair Minion and Myriad, right?

    – Jeff


    Joel Friedlander February 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Jeff, FF Meta is an incredible array of faces, hundreds of variants on a really strong base. I haven’t used it, but you’ve piqued my curiosity because two of my favorite typefaces are Officina Sans and Officina Serif, earlier products of Erik Spiekermann. And yes, I think the Myriad / Minion combination is pretty common. You should check out fellow commentor Douglas Bonneville’s (above) terrific book and app on font combinations.


    Douglas Bonneville February 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    My first favorite combination was Myriad and Minion, taken from Adobe’s corporate literature and manuals from some time in mid 90’s. Still one of my favorites, and the basis of interest for my font combinations book! Myriad is my all time top 10 list for good reason! I might add that self-publishing (even about fonts!) has been fantastic through and through.


    Joel Friedlander February 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Douglas, you should submit your incredible “100 Best Fonts” post to our blog Carnival this month, I’m sure people would love it. An amazing piece of work.

    Myriad is a workhorse. It does so many things well it’s hard not to reach for it. I still miss Frutiger, but Myriad is probably the most-used font in my drop down.


    Cathi Stevenson February 24, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I went through a Univers and Optima stage, too. I like Myriad also and use it on my site. Not a practical choice for that purpose though, since the embedding licenses are so expensive for it, and most people end up with the Verdana or Arial defaults.

    I use a lot of Adobe Garamond Pro and Perpetua these days.


    Joel Friedlander February 24, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Oh, thanks for that reminder, Cathi. I used to do a lot of projects with Perpetua, and I haven’t looked at it in quite a while. That will be fun.


    Chris O'Byrne February 25, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Fun also my first thought; a new (old) font to check out.

    My second thought was, “Oh, dear; what a bunch of geeks we are!”

    (Yet not geeks in the old meaning of the word; I’m not partial to chicken heads.)


    Joel Friedlander February 25, 2011 at 7:55 am

    No, not geeks. How about type nerds? That fits. It’s an occupational hazard for book designers who use type almost exclusively for design. Alas. Perils of the profession, I guess.


    maggie February 24, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Myriad’s a truly versatile font. I’ve used it many times for display. And I’ll be interested to see what serif font you might promote in future blogs. I know you have a preference for Adobe Garamond, but have you ever tried Granjon? It’s become my first love for text, even supplanting the wonderfully solid and much revered Goudy Old Style.


    Joel Friedlander February 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Have to agree with Chris about the utility of Myriad.

    Interesting, Maggie, I just typeset my own book and it ended up in Adobe Caslon. And I just finished a large book in Century, so I would probably welcome a project in Garamond about now. I haven’t used Granjon for many years and don’t have a usable copy any longer, I’ll have to take a look. One of my other favorites that I try to find the right book for is Electra, do you know it?


    Chris O'Byrne February 24, 2011 at 5:49 am

    I used Myriad Pro extensively when designing a real estate guide a couple of years back. It was wonderful for those tiny descriptions and then even tinier MLS listing numbers. This font is one of my more useful tools.


    Michael N. Marcus February 24, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Very good points, both your recommendation for Myriad, and your demonstrating that one face can appear in many ways, and be used for many purposes.

    With so many fine-looking and higly readable sans serif faces, it’s a shame that people stick with Arial and Helvetica and don’t consider alternatives.

    I’m currently in love with (you understand typeface love, I’m sure) Trebuchet MS.

    I’m absolutely smitten by the cute “foot” on the bottom of the lowercase “l” and the lovely looping descender on the lowercase “g.”

    The ampersand is a brilliant and witty design, almost a visual pun. It looks like a ligatured “e” and “t” — forming a symbol for “et,” the Latin word for “and.” I like the lowered crossbar on the uppercase “A”, and I think the short tails on the “e,” “6” and “9” are cute.

    Alas, the dollar sign is so spare, it’s almost sad. The slanted leg on the uppercase R lacks the subtle double curves of Myriad, or even the single curve of Arial.

    Oh well, even Sophia Loren showed a mole (or “beauty mark”) and the imperfection did not lessen my lust for her.

    Michael N. Marcus
    — Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series: http://www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing.html
    — “Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults),” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661750


    Joel Friedlander February 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Trebuchet is interesting. It was given away with many Microsoft products for years, so it’s likely that lots of people have it on their system. It’s not a favorite of mine and I don’t think I’ve ever used it. Like Verdana, I believe it was originally designed for the screen. Thanks for leaving your love note here.


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