Book-Regular weight conflict

Nick Shinn's picture

What's the best way to avoid an application conflict between the Book and Regular weight of a typeface family?

If there is a problem caused by an application going by the weight number -- and they are both designated as 400 -- rather than the weight name, is the solution to give the Book weight a numerical value of 350?

(The problem is that I already have a Light [300] and a Regular [400] weight, and a further weight in between is to be added, which would seem to indicate Book as a name.)

Nick Cooke's picture

Try it Nick - it sounds like the best solution (if it works).

Nick Cooke

dezcom's picture

If you have a light at 300 and a regular at 400, it seems logical--and helpful to your clients--to say your Book is 350. It would give the user the cue that it sits between the other two.
I think the word "Regular" is the toad though. It is looked at by software as the basic style.


SuperUltraFabulous's picture

Glad I'm not the only who has experienced confusion regarding regular vs. book weights.

Mikey :-)

Miguel Sousa's picture

Why don't you call it "Text" instead of "Book"?

Nick Shinn's picture

But surely it's not the name that's causing the conflicts, but the number?
Is 350 OK -- do applications such as InDesign recognize weights in multiples of less than a hundred?

andreas's picture

Hmm... so you assume "Book" describes not the "proper" optical type design optimized for a small size - typical 9 pt - its just a style name for an in between style?.

For me a "Book" style is "a bit bolder" and "wider" than a "Regular" under the two assumption:

1. the Regular style is not bold or medium
2. the Regular is designed for common use (office stuff...) and optimized for 12 pt like it schould (beside display fonts)

k.l.'s picture

I had the same thought as Andreas.
What about Light - SemiLight - Regular?
I think 350 should be ok.

(Curious: Which effect does the conflict
have? Does one of the (same) weights
not show up?)

Miguel Sousa's picture

> But surely it’s not the name that’s causing the conflicts, but the number?
Is 350 OK — do applications such as InDesign recognize weights in multiples of less than a hundred?

I think it's the name. AFAIK, for InDesign "Regular" and "Book" are two names to describe the same thing, so if the family has these two weights you might run into problems as only one will be visible.

I believe the number is used for sorting the weights in the Style submenu.

Nick Shinn's picture

Thanks for your help everybody.
I guess the safest thing to do is rename the font "Text", and give it a numerical weight of 350.

The conflict causes one of the fonts to not show in the InDesign CS2 menu, although both did in CS.
At least, that's the report I'm getting -- I assume my client isn't having cache problems.

I agree with Andreas' understanding of what a Book font is, but am constrained by the behavior of layout applications -- and the FontLab interface.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Yes, it is a naming issue rather than a weightclass issue. However, you'll also want to differentiate the weightclass values to get correct sorting by weight (as you have done already, now).


twardoch's picture

I'm surprising by some understanding of "Book". I actually think that "Book" is typically a somewhat lighter style optimized for use in lower-quality enviroments where ink spread happens. At least this is how it's handled in those families that have a "Book" and a "Medium" weight, e.g. Futura.


andreas's picture

This is the info of the Futura Buchschrift (Book) from its time. Saying the type was optimised for body text only, but due to the fine harmonic design it was further developed for the whole range of type sizes. - So to me its no difference in understanding of the term Book. Like many type designs of this time the Mager/Leichte/Light version was the "native" Regular style.

Futura Buchschrift, 1932
Die Futura Buchschrift, deren Strichstärke zwischen dem mageren und dem halbfetten Schnitt der Futura die Mitte hält, war ursprünglich vor allem für den glatten Satz bestimmt, doch erwiesen sich die Formverhältnisse gerade dieser Garnitur als so harmonisch, daß sie in allen Graden geschnitten wurde.

dan_reynolds's picture

Here's my on the fly translation…

Futura Book,* 1932
Futura Book, whose stroke weight is in between those of the Light and Bold, was originally* intended for even text setting;* nevertheless, the formal proportions of this style are so harmonious that it has been cut for all sizes.*

* Book: Not quite "Buchschrift," but close enough in this context

* originally: I assume Andreas misspelled "ursprünglich" as "ursorünglich" in his text above

* even text setting: "glatten Satz" is not really used anymore, I think. This seems to me to mean the even color setting that you typically find on the page of a book that only has text on it, if you understand what I mean

* sizes: Andreas, "Graden" here means sizes, not styles (i.e., light, medium, bold), right?

k.l.'s picture

Andreas -- Like many type designs of this time the Mager/Leichte/Light version was the 'native' Regular style.

Funnily, Renner himself used the Halbfett rather than the Mager before the Buch [book] was available (in 'Kulturbolschewismus?').

The original weights of Futura were Mager [thin], Halbfett [semifat], Fett [fat]. These weights and weight names seem to have been common in Germany and used in other sanserifs too (Erbar, Elegant Grotesk, Super Grotesk).
Futura Buch(schrift) [book] was added inbetween Mager and Halbfett. (Similarly, a Normal was added to Erbar.) Maybe it is safe to say that the Buch is neither a thinner nor a fatter version of any regular because there was no such Regular before, rather, the Buch is the missing Regular.

(German) weight names then and now differ, and it's not possible to translate them directly.* It seems that these new sanserifs required rethinking of weights -- weight names, number of weights, relation of weights -- which was not an issue in earlier serif types.

* Interestingly, Syntax's weights are called Mager and Halbfett, and a specimen (1968?) translates Mager as Regular, and Halbfett as Bold.

But this isn't much related to Nick's original question any more ...

[Yes, 'Grad' is size.]

andreas's picture

Thank you Dan for the better translation. Yes, "glatter Satz" means "justified text" - in this time used for the work of a common text setting job. So its directly related to book text setting done in small type sizes.

*those of the Light and Bold should be "those of Light and Semi Bold"

BTW. Typophile system updates the posting time/position on every edit.

Etoile's picture

Hi, I am having this exact problem in Indesign CS2 -- it can't seem to have both Matrix regular and book open at the same time.

Could someone explain to me how I can change the "weight" or the names, as alluded to above (where do I do this?) to fool the program? I have an old CD design (yes, from the early 90's -- the Matrix moment!) that we are reissuing and it has both weights used in it!


PabloImpallari's picture

I´m facing the same Book/Regular conflict, and plan to rename the Regular to Medium instead.

Something like this:
200 X-Light
300 Light
400 Book
500 Medium
600 Semibold
700 Bold
800 X-Bold

blokland's picture

Pablo: I [...] plan to rename the Regular to Medium [...]

The sequence of font weights like the following on Wikipedia obviously seem to be influenced by the way some applications list them:

Normal / regular / roman / plain
Demi-bold / semi-bold

Personally I have my doubts about this sequence. The ‘Book’ weight should come after the ‘Regular’ weight in my opinion, like the ‘Regular’ of Monotype’s Bembo Book is an emboldened version of Monotype’s Bembo’s ‘Regular’ weight.

Especially when the transition took place from (hot) metal to photo composing there was a shift in weight, and this effect was even more emphasized by the (sometimes [too] rapid) conversion to digital type. Also the fact that single masters were used for the production of text and display sizes made matters worse. What is considered to be ‘Regular’ in our time is a gradation lighter than what was used as ‘Regular’ in the times of foundry- and hot-metal type. The ‘Book’ weight offers the option to add a slightly heavier weight for relatively small point sizes, hence its name.

So, I would never replace the ‘Regular’ weight by ‘Medium’ (which is in my opinion a synonym for ‘Semi-bold’, i.e. in between ‘Regular’ and ‘Bold’), and for the DTL Library I use therefore:

Light (300)
Regular (400)
Book (500)
Medium (600)
Bold (700)


Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

NS> I guess the safest thing to do is rename the font "Text"

aiieeeee! I'd suggest something else, or when it's time for optical sizes, you're boxed.

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

If its good enough for Veronika Burian, then it’s good enough for me:

Mike :-)

Frode Bo Helland's picture

"Halvfet", from the German word, is what you call Bold in Norwegian typography. Never made any sense to me.

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