Palatino is the name of an old-style serif typeface designed by Hermann Zapf, initially released in 1949 by the Stempel foundry and later by other companies, most notably the Mergenthaler Linotype Company.[a]
Named after the 16th-century Italian master of calligraphy Giambattista Palatino, Palatino is based on the humanist types of the Italian Renaissance, which mirror the letters formed by a broad nib pen reflecting Zapf’s expertise as a calligrapher. Its capital ‘Y’ is in the unusual ‘palm Y’ style, inspired by the Greek letter upsilon, a trait found in some of the earliest versions of the letter such as that of Aldus Manutius.
Unlike most Renaissance typeface revivals, which tend to have delicate proportions such as a low x-height (short lower-case letters and longer ascenders and descenders), Palatino has larger proportions, increasing legibility. Palatino was particularly intended as a design for trade or ‘jobbing’ use, such as headings, advertisements and display printing, and was created with a solid, wide structure and wide apertures that could appear clearly on poor-quality paper, when read at a distance or printed at small sizes.
Palatino is one of several related typefaces by Zapf, which Stempel marketed as an “extended family”. The group includes Palatino, Sistina, Michaelangelo Titling, and Aldus; Zapf’s biographer Jerry Kelly describes them as forming “the largest type family based on classic renaissance forms at the time." These designs were strongly influenced by Italian Renaissance letter forms and Roman square capitals, although Zapf was unable to visit Italy until after he had finished the Palatino roman. Palatino rapidly became popular for book body text use, overshadowing the narrower and lighter Aldus, which Zapf had designed for this role. It has been described as one of the ten most used serif typefaces. Since Palatino was not originally designed for body text, some of its characters were intended to stand out with quirky, calligraphic design features, and Zapf later redesigned them with more sober alternates, which have become the norm on most digital versions.
Linotype licensed Palatino to Adobe and Apple who incorporated it into the PostScript digital printing technology as a standard font. This guaranteed its importance in digital and desktop publishing and made it (or a variant of it) a preinstalled font on most computers. As with many popular fonts, knockoff designs and rereleases under different names are common. Zapf retained an interest in the design, and continued to collaborate on new versions into his eighties.
– From Wikipedia