Ornamental (also known as novelty or
sometimes display) typefaces are used exclusively for
decorative purposes, and are not suitable for body text.
They have the most distinctive designs of all fonts, and
may even incorporate pictures of objects, animals, etc.
into the character designs. They usually have very
specific characteristics (e.g., evoking the Wild West,
Christmas, horror films, etc.) and hence very limited
Decorative and display fonts became popular in the
19th century and were used extensively on posters and
advertisements. This style of type and lettering could be
artistic and eye-catching in a way that wasn’t
considered previously. William Morris launched the Arts
and Crafts movement and as part of the
experimentation and innovation of the time, developed
the Troy typeface.
William Morris was one of the most influential men of the
Victorian era, a figure who looms large in the world of Arts
and Crafts. Even today, of all English designers, his is the
work that remains the most easily recognised.
He did not take up typography until quite late in his career. In
1888, he was inspired to start printing following a lecture by
Emery Walker at the Arts and Crafts Society in London. In
1890, he set up the Kelmscott Press in collaboration with
Walker. He eschewed the mechanical methods of
reproduction available at the time. Morris designed his own
typeface - Kelmscott Chaucer - for the printing of Chaucer's
works - with illustrations by Burne-Jones, and died soon after
"It was the essence of my undertaking to produce books
which it would be a pleasure to look upon as pieces of
printing and arrangement of type."
The arts and crafts movement
The Arts and Crafts Movement originated in Britain during the
late 19th century and was characterized by a style of
decoration reminiscent of medieval times. The primary artist
associated with the movement is William Morris, whose work
was reinforced with writings from John Ruskin. The
movement placed a high importance on the quality of
craftsmanship while emphasizing the importance for the arts
to contribute to economic reform.
Morris was instrumental in the founding of Morris, Marshall,
Faulkner & Co., which would later evolve to just Morris & Co..
Morris & Co. and their publishing division Kelmscott
Press contributed much of the work that is associated with
the Arts and Crafts movement. The style is associated with
many different types of design including architecture,
typography, book printing, textile and interior design.
Throughout the 20th and now into the 21st century,
decorative fonts continued to be used in advertising and
posters. There are hundreds if not thousands of display
fonts available for download. The thing to remember
about decorative typefaces is that they are only
powerful when their use is limited. If you use them
everywhere their effect diminishes. With the advent of
technologies like Cufon, sIFR and Typekit, there is no
reason why you couldn’t use them as headings on your
As their name suggests, decorative typefaces should be
used for decorative or ornamental purposes. They are
not suitable for using in body text. You would have
some pretty cross-eyed and sick readers if you forced
people to read too much in one of these fonts. They
tend to have a very distinct look, for example a wild
west style, horror or Christmas.
Different types of ornament font
Linotype decoration Pi
Adobe caslon pro
“The specific shape, design, or representation of a