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Briem’s notes on type design: Where does the weight go?

Most of the weight you add to a design of normal width goes on the inside. Bold type usually looks all right without a lot of white counterspace.

On the left, the templates show how weight would be added to the outside of the letter u. In the example on the right all the weight would go on the inside. Neither works. Somewhere between the two extremes is a shape that does.

Here are five versions of a bold letter u. On the left, all the weight was added on the outside. It would only look right in an extended version. On the right, all the added weight went on the inside. That would work in a condensed letter.

Second from the right is a letter with three fourths of the weight on the inside and one-fourth on the outside. That seems to be a popular choice.

The templates on the left show where extra weight will be added. One-fourth will go on the outside and three-fourths on the inside It’s easy. You widen the outer path and condense the inner. In this design, the hairlines remain much the same.

You make bold letters c and e the same way you made the letter o. The hairline at the top can remain as thin as it was. The bottom curve needs extra weight. You don’t have to make the right curve of the letter e as bold as the left.

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