Papyrus is one of those fonts that are far too popular for their own good. I cannot for instance recount the number of times it is being (mis)used for copyright notices or titles in digital pictures. Some people even use it for PowerPoint presentations. That is why it is one of the typefaces that made it to my list of interesting fonts.

What does Papyrus look like?

Papyrus Regular
Papyrus Regular

What do you use Papyrus for?

It’s handcrafted and irregular, rough look as well as its high horizontal strokes give Papyrus a distinct look that lends itself well for display type. It is especially suitable for anything that needs to look a bit antique. Unfortunately, this typeface has been overused in the past decade so many people are currently bored with it.

The history of Papyrus

Chris Costello, a designer and illustrator, created Papyrus in 1982 using a calligraphy pen and textured paper. His intent was to create a typeface that looked as if written on papyrus 2000 years ago. Letraset released the typeface in 1983. It is now owned by ITC.


Papyrus has its fans, like here, but it also is featured in quite a few rants, such as this one and this funny one. On this page Chris Costello, its designer, admits that the font should have come with this disclaimer: ‘May be habit forming. Not responsible for overdose or inappropriate use of this product.’

Other sources of information

I haven’t found any extensive sources of information about Papyrus yet, beyond the unavoidable Wikipedia page. Maybe there simply isn’t that much to tell about the font?

10 thoughts on “Papyrus

  1. I love the font Papyrus, and the skeleton. I think at least some people only like or know that this font even exists because of Papyrus.

  2. There is no italic or bold versions of Papyrus, it simply does NOT exist!! As mentioned above, in MS Word you can apply “bold” and “italic” effects to any font, but there are not true bold or italics versions of Papyrus.

    I came across this issue myself, I’m a graphic artist at a printing company, we had a restaurant bring in a hard copy of their menu wanting us to recreate it which uses Papyrus heavily, including bold and italicized versions. I tried to find the variations myself as well but after much research I’ve come to this conclusion. If you have the ability to you can set the text in MS Word then make a PDF of it then import it into InDesign or whatever program as a graphic. Or simply choose a better font. 😉

  3. I work on Mac OS X 10.6.8 will in near future upgrade to LION

    I LOVE/NEED Papyrus in Italic and Bold, as shown on this page. Where can I get/purchase? I have Papyrus Regular/was installed on iMac at purchase.

    Please help. Urgent! PrePRESSURE for sure

    email: [email protected]

  4. “You can apply the BOLD command to Papyrus in MS Word ”

    And therein lies the age-old problem of font bastardisation! There are some fonts that are just not meant to be emboldened or italicised and this is one of them. If it wasn’t for the likes of MicroS**t designeres and typographers would have a much easier life.

    Italicising a font isn’t just a case of slanting it to the left 15 degrees. Take a look at Times Roman and Italic. Look at the lower case ‘a’. Notice the difference? Case closed.


  5. I’m with Whitney. Where can I find bold and italic versions of Papyrus for my Mac? I’m using Scrivener to write a novel and Papyrus is so easy on my eyes but I do need italic especially.

    1. ITC Papyrus does not include bold or italic faces. I created the samples with my previous PC using Photoshop. That application doesn’t allow the creation of fake or faux fonts, so I must have had a version of Papyrus installed that included bold and italic, without realizing I wasn’t using the official release. Unfortunately I have no way of finding out which vendor created the Papyrus look-alike that was installed on my previous system. Sorry about the confusion.

    2. You can apply the BOLD command to Papyrus in MS Word under Mac OS 10.5 and 10.6. I can’t figure out how to do it in Pages, though, and that’s very unfortunate, since I use it for my letterhead.

    1. This does not answer the question. You assume we are all computer wizzes. Please explain more clearly & simply how to do this on a MAC?
      Thank you.

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