The Tuesday Type: Trajan

A Type For The Caesars

I’ve long been inspired by the typography of the Ancient Roman Empire. Even to this day, the typeface continues to be highly readable and evoke a sense of greatness from the Antiquity era in Europe. It’s with this appreciation that I came to discover the digitised version of this legendary typeface: Trajan. It’s a typeface which brings the legacy of Roman typography to life into the digital era and feels inspiring to use.

An Ancient Typeface In History and Computing

By computing standards, Trajan is as ancient as the typography it’s inspired by. The type was created in 1989 by Carol Twombly, an American designer who was a type designer at Adobe at the time. It’s a serif font and draws its name from Trajan’s Column in Rome, in which is based on the inscriptions at the base of the column (pictured below the column). The typeface follows a lot of the Ancient Roman characteristics of type. It is in all-caps and can be written much in the same way as many inscriptions from the time period. It has remained a typeface with Adobe since then, with numerous improvements being made to it over the years.

The Trajan Column in Rome, where the Type gets its name from
The Inscription on Trajan’s Column

Since its inception, Trajan has gone on to become one of the most used typefaces of the last thirty years. It’s a common typeface used in cinema, being used for movies like Titanic, The Lord of the Rings, and Minority Report. The font has also been adopted by EA Games for the latest Star Wars video games, like Battlefront (2015) and Jedi Fallen Order (2019) (examples seen below).

An Epic Typeface Limited by Its Greatest Strength

Much like the Ancient Roman typography that inspired it, Trajan is a highly readable typeface that is strong and familiar. The mere sight of it, for me at least, evokes the greatness of Ancient Rome, as well as the power of Hollywood. This feeling of greatness is down to its use of all-caps, which make it appear strong and legible. It’s this that makes it a great typeface to use in logos or posters. The benefit of Trajan is also down to how even if it’s all-caps, it can distinguish the difference between a modern upper and lower-case.

An example of the Trajan type using both no spaces (as common in Ancient Rome) and a couple of sample with the addition of spacing.

It’s this great strength though is what comes with the greatest weakness as well with this typeface. Even in the times of Ancient Rome, this typeface only works with large forms of writing, not every day reading. You won’t see this typeface in long-form writing in books as its strong, all-caps appearance makes it difficult to read in small size. It’s with this that if you’re someone looking into doing long-form type design, avoid this font. Trajan may be a serif font, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good one for reading long form works.

An example of Trajan in a reading format, using placeholder text from Adobe InDesign


Trajan is a type that lives up to the legacy of the Ancient Romans. It’s a faithful modern take on the legendary typography of the Antiquity Period. The type is also an effective one for movie posters and large format printing, like film posters and billboards. This is the type of choice if you’re doing a project on Ancient Rome, or even on film posters and logos.

*Posters are taken from IMDB and Wikipedia, All Rights Reserved to the original creators. Trajan’s Column and the Inscription are Creative Commons images from Wikipedia. Trajan Pro 3 used with official licence from Adobe Fonts


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