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Used on Playing Cards

What Font Is Used on Playing Cards?

You would have wondered what font is used on playing cards after playing with them so many times.

Playing cards are everywhere, with many countries claiming origin for it.

The Chinese have played card games since the ninth century.

But the first card game registered was by the British.

The standard fifty-two-card deck we see today is of French origin.

Nowadays, most people know how to play card games.

These games include bridge, blackjack, and solitaire.

However, very few people have seen or understood the progression in the design of the playing cards.

Card fonts and colors change according to the country’s origin and the theme of the card itself.

Cards have numerous uses, from gambling to magic tricks. 

What Font Is Used on Playing Cards?  

A wide variety of fonts are used with playing cards.

However, there is no standardized font for playing cards due to the vast number of worldwide variations. 

No standard font appears across their designs.

Just look at the popular American playing cards from Bicycle and KEM (Official World Series Poker Cards).

However, similar serif fonts have been used.

Examples of serif typefaces are Venetian Serif, Geraldas, English serif, and Classicist serif, representing a country and period.  

Since 1885, Bicycle playing cards have been manufactured by the USPCC (United States Printing Company) based in Erlanger, Kentucky. 

The original font you see on the packaging and card values (J, Q, K, etc.) is unknown.

The very first playing cards were hand-drawn and then just got printed later on.

However, similar fonts have been produced to replicate the original.


The most similar font is Campanile.

It is available on DaFont for free download since 2006, with over 350,000 downloads.

However, Campanile is known as a “fancy” font.

It mimics modern-day serif features on capitals and lowercase letters, which you can see and download here.

Another popular playing card pack is KEM cards, known as the best in the industry.

Their popularity is due to the cellulose acetate material they are manufactured from and their worldwide casinos and tournaments.

Playfair Display

what font is used on playing cards

Other non-major US playing cards have used a more modern typeface, including the popular serif font Playfair Display.

This font is similar to Bicycle and KEM; however, it offers a slimmer and more legible style. 

Designed by Claus Eggers Sorensen in 2011, Playfair had been produced from inspiration from the 18th century.

This was the time Bicycle and KEM playing cards were created.  

Both Campanile and Playfair are published under the Open Font Licence 1.1, meaning you can use the fonts free of charge and edit the font family.

Where Can I Get It? 

One of the places you can get these Serif fonts, including Playfair Display, is from the extensive database called Google Fonts.

Google fonts are open-source and free to use.

This means you can easily access, integrate, and download the font (including desired styles) in MS Word or alternate software designs. 

Google Fonts are categorized into themes.

Google covers the licensing and hosting when downloading or using the font, ensuring the latest version of any font is available to everyone. 

You can have a look at the serif font types and download them here

Google also provides similar typefaces and additional pairing fonts for perfect design and readability. 

Another font website that is free and popular to use is DaFont.

This site contains many fonts, the majority are free to download – such as Campanile. 

DaFont allows users to download and submit their fonts, which makes it more creative however doesn’t allow users to find similar or pair fonts.

DaFont also doesn’t manage version control or licensing.

Any updates to fonts may be discarded, and users may potentially infringe on copyright notices.

You can view the fonts here.

Font Squirrel is another library aside from DaFont and Google Fonts.

It offers a more comprehensive range of commercial and professional fonts are stored. 

Users can buy commercial licenses for typefaces and can also download select fonts for free. 

Font Squirrel has a handy visual search feature.

It allows you to upload photos of the desired font to find the exact or similar font you are looking for. 

This is helpful when searching for an originally handwritten font such as the Bicycle typeface that we cannot find.

Font Squirrel is the closest-looking typeface.

Features and Description of the Font

Fonts are crucial for the readability of playing cards. 

The fonts used help determine the card faster, along with the color and the suit (Hearts, Spaces, Clubs, Diamonds).


Using Campanile Typeface editing software such as the Adobe Suite (Illustrator and Photoshop) allows manipulation of font weight, width, anatomy, italics, and obliques.

These manipulations make the fonts more usable. 

The Campanile typeface comes in a singular weight.

Playfair Display

Playfair Display uses three weights (regular, bold, and black) and two styles (regular and italic), together with small caps for all weights and styles.

A very noticeable thing about this font is its weight.  

Regular font styles tend to be neutral as these are the most accessible types of font weights to read. 

Occasionally other font weights are used to change how the font is perceived.

Cards that use the Playfair typeface use bold & black styles to draw attention to unique letters.

You can observe that the number & honor cards have bold characters.

These bold fonts contain serif elements which give them a sense of power due to the heightened weight.

On the other hand, fonts that lack weight are perceived as more friendly and caring.

They are often used in the pharmaceutical and health industry.

Again, the software allows manipulation to thicken or thin out the typeface.

However, this process limits the typeface quality due to rasterization, converting the layer type from vectors to pixels.

Upper and Lower Cases

The height difference between lowercase and uppercase typefaces can be additionally referred to as the X-height, can be adjusted. 

Lowercase against uppercase letters is one of the main font features that define its emotional usage in long paragraphs of text.

However, this is not directly used on the playing cards due to singular letters or numbers used to define a card. 

But, you can use it in front or at the back of the box.

Depending on other less-known card brands, cards have written values, for example, “Jack” instead of J.

The overall mood and character of the message can be hugely dependent on the X-height.

You can expect italic and oblique font styles in some modern font families. 

However, Campanile does not contain this feature due to the presumed direct copy from Bicycle cards. 

Playfair provides italic styles where the slant implies a change of intonation when reading.

You can see this in some designs that use italics for the cards, such as the Joker and instruction card.

These serif fonts, Playfair and Campanile, can often enhance the emotion of power and intensity.

Where Else Can I Use the Font?

Fonts have a variety of uses.

However, successful branding requires precise font selection to enhance the text of the end product.

Specifically, serif fonts are typically used for headings, subheadings, and even for creating your card games, logos, and advertising. 

If they are paired with San Serif fonts for longer texts, they are visually good for advertising. 

Playfair Display has been used all around the world by various brands, including the global magazine Vogue. 

The wide use of this font makes it instantly recognizable similar to Times New Roman and Comic Sans. 

Therefore, you may want to consider using this font as it will stand out. 

Fonts including and similar to these and the ones mentioned above require commercial licenses.

So that you can use them in published works, but you cannot claim the font as your own or sell it.

Serif fonts are good to use in magazines and on web pages.

This is due to the decorative stroke that finishes off the end of letters called “feet.”

These ‘feet’ bring character to the page, making it more exciting. 

This is down to the human psychological perception of typefaces. 

These decorative strokes of serif fonts convey more emotion.

Therefore, it is one of the most critical characteristics in any font classification. 

The Serif shape depends on the overall logic of font building which has been developing from Ancient Rome to the present day.

Also, if you are writing an article where you want to portray a sense of class, a serif font is suitable for this. 

If you want to use a Bicycle typeface, you should consider using this for headings, headlines, and, captions. 

Although, ultimately, any font will be dependent on personal preference and can be used for anything both personal or business-related. 

What Fonts Are Similar to The Playing Cards Font?

What Fonts Are Similar to The Playing Cards Font?

If you are looking for typefaces similar to Campanile, Playfair, or Display, some fonts to consider are Bodoni, Nouvelle Vague, or Sardonyx. 

There are all types of Serif fonts but different types. 

For example, Bodoni is a sharp and crisp font, whereas Sardonyx flows more.

Nouvelle Vague is more of a soft font that only comes in a singular style. 

It is more modern than Campanile and Playfair Display.

However, it still provides the same serif appeal.  

All of the typefaces mentioned are good alternatives. 

Still, some have premium commercial licenses.

But you get what you pay for, ensuring these are of the highest standard with quality vector lines. 

Premium fonts are expensive but paying for quality would mean you’ll get unique fonts.

Some cost-effective fonts are Waters Gothic or Old London, which are found on Google Fonts and DaFont.

Both these free fonts are similar in the way Campanile looks with a more gothic feel.

The gothic element of Campanile is a typical feature of playing cards; therefore, Old London or Waters Gothic would achieve a similar feel. 

Whereas if you require something similar to Playfair, you could look at using Brygada 1918. 

Brygada 1918 comes in 6 different styles and three different weights (Regular, Semi-bold, and Bold) with the option of italics. 

This font has different figure styles such as old-style, lining, old tabular style, and tabular lining. 

Therefore, you have many different options when working with this font while also avoiding the recognizable Playfair Display feel.

Which Fonts Pair Well with The Playing Cards Font?

When wanting to use more than one font in a design, it’s complex but critical to match. 

However, if done correctly, it will elevate the font emphasizing its meaning.

One of the worst outcomes would be to turn the reader away due to the bad judgment of font design. 

You will want to research two or more fonts to use together to ensure they complement one another.

You will also need to make sure the fonts are not too similar.

However, two completely different fonts will cause your design to look messy, disorganized, and rushed.

To avoid this, ensure you choose a good combination so the viewer will not notice anything but be engaged and appeal to the design.  

So, when looking to pair fonts that are slightly old-fashioned and traditional, like Playfair and Campanile, you should be looking for solid serif features. 

These will match well with minimal sans-serif fonts.  

Sans-serif fonts are sleek and don’t have these strokes. 

For example, Open Sans, Quicksans, and Montserrat are popular and used in modern-day everywhere. 

A font such as Playfair Display is usually intended for bold use, like headlines and card values. 

Using this font as such is because it’s easily readable with a bold yet modern look.

Source Sans Pro

So to pair something with Playfair Display, you could consider Source Sans Pro. 

They complement each other by creating an attractive arrangement between the sans and non-sans features that remain discrete but successful and appealing to the eye. 

If using this combination, the text or design will have a clean presentation that is modern, clean, and easy to read. 

Minion Pro and Montserrat

If you want a different option to pair a sans serif font with Playfair Display or Campanile, you can consider Minion Pro and Montserrat. 

Minion Pro is also a very minimal font. 

Therefore it would be a good pairing. 

It also works with most other serif fonts. 

In the last five years, pairings with Campanile or Playfair have become more modern and popular.

Both fonts have a fresh, clean thinner look rather than an older fashioned condensed version. 

Other potential pairings for Playfair Display are Minion Pro, Lato, or Raleway.

They are ‘softer’ fonts but still maintain an elegant shape.

Lato and Raleway are good pairings as they have a quirky look that is unique and pleasing to the eye.

Minion Pro is a very clean and modest font, suitable for most pairings with serif fonts.

Additional Manipulation to Fonts         

When using a font of your choice, such as Serif fonts, consider adjusting or adding italics and obliques.

Italics and oblique font styles are standard, especially in modern font families. 

Italicized fonts are different from typical straight styles as they create a handwritten effect. 

The italics trace their origin to the renaissance era of Italian handwriting. 

Italicized text is usually used to highlight a text through the slant to display a visual change when reading. 

Using an italicized font creates a softer polite tone through the slant in style, which looks calligraphic. 

This feature originating from handwriting makes it more personal.

Therefore, you can use this font for greetings, invitations, and typed letters. 

Instead of italicizing, you could apply the obliques to the font to create the feeling of speed to a text or to highlight important information. 

Obliques are similar to italics, but they are a slanted version of the font, and the only thing that differs is the angle. 

Obliques can be used for most san serif fonts, although not all have obliques as opposed to italics. 

You could consider adding obliques to monotonous text for easy reading.

Every element affects the viewer visually, which relates to the perception of it with one’s own experiences. 

It’s best not to manipulate your fonts that much to retain their original style. 

Hence, it continues to match the target audience.  

Accessibility Considerations in Playing Card Fonts

Accessibility Considerations in Playing Card Fonts

Playing cards, with their familiar symbols and easy-to-understand gameplay, have long been a source of entertainment for people of all ages and abilities. However, for players with visual impairments or other accessibility needs, traditional playing cards can present challenges. This is where accessibility considerations in playing card font design come into play.

Importance of Accessibility

Accessibility in playing card font design is crucial for ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy the game. By making font choices that enhance legibility and inclusivity, designers can create a more welcoming and inclusive experience for all players.

Legibility Enhancement Strategies

Several strategies can be employed to enhance the legibility of playing card fonts for players with visual impairments. These include:

  • High Contrast: Using high-contrast fonts with dark characters on a light background or vice versa improves visual separation and makes the text easier to read.

  • Large Font Size: Increasing the font size makes the characters larger and easier to distinguish, reducing the strain on the eyes.

  • Clear Sans-Serif Fonts: Sans-serif fonts, which lack the decorative flourishes of serif fonts, are generally easier to read for people with dyslexia or other vision conditions.

  • Consistent Font Style: Maintaining a consistent font style throughout the deck ensures that all characters have a similar appearance, reducing confusion and enhancing visual recognition.

Inclusive Design Considerations

Beyond legibility, accessibility in playing card font design also encompasses broader inclusive design considerations. These include:

  • Cultural Sensitivity: Font choices should be culturally sensitive, avoiding culturally inappropriate symbols or motifs that might be offensive to certain groups.

  • Language Accessibility: For multilingual playing card decks, fonts should support the languages used, ensuring that all players can understand the card values and symbols.

  • Adaptability to Assistive Technology: Font choices should be compatible with assistive technology, such as screen readers, to ensure that players with visual impairments can access the information on the cards.

By incorporating accessibility considerations into playing card font design, designers can create a more inclusive and equitable gaming experience for all players. By enhancing legibility, adopting inclusive design principles, and ensuring compatibility with assistive technology, we can ensure that everyone can enjoy the joy and camaraderie of playing cards.

Final Thoughts

Although there is no standard font for playing cards, the commonly used fonts are serif-style fonts, including Campanile and Playfair Display.

Both Bicycle and KEM cards use this style of font. 

We hope that you picked up a thing or two about playing card fonts.

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