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Briem’s notes on type design: Make a bold

Decision time

If you haven’t got an opinion about bold letters, now is the time to make up your mind.

Where do you add the weight? How thick do you like your hairlines? What length do you want for your serifs? What’s a good size for the smallest counters, such as the inside of the degree sign? What is a bold, anyway?

33% heavier

50% heavier

67% heavier

What exactly is a bold? It’s probably whatever you say it is, as long as it isn’t actually lighter than the regular weight. It is usually between two-fifths and two-thirds heavier.

In this example, I propose that we double the regular weight. Shaping the silhouette of very bold letters is different from shaping the line quality of the regular weight. Our end result may well be heavier than we need. That’s no problem.

We can use a very bold design and the regular weight we started with and blend a new weight somewhere between the two. That’s fairly easy. Extrapolating extra black versions from regular and bold, on the other hand, is a mess.

Notes on type design. Copyright © 1998, 2001, 2022 Gunnlaugur SE Briem. All rights reserved. Republished with permission in 2022 by Fontlab Ltd.