Our Bodoni Body Copy Replacement

Reynolds's picture

Hi All,

I posted a question a while back about a suitable replacement for Our Bodoni Light for body copy in a Magazine. The whole idea was scrapped for a few months and now I'm having another go at it. The mag is a lifestyle title, focusing on fashion, food, culture, celebrity etc. It targets upper middle class Canadians. I'm looking for something with a vertical axis and a fairly large x-height that doesn't feel too dark on the page as the mag is quite text heavy. I've tried out several other Bodonis and think it's best to stray away from them. We use Trade gothic for headers and captions and I'm having some difficulty finding something that fits. I'm stumped.

Any suggestions??

raph's picture

Here are some nice vertical-stress fonts: Scotch Modern, a Walbaum (Storm's Walbaum Text is nice if you're looking for something with lower contrast), Miller, maybe Didot if you're going very high contrast, Worldwide (but that's probably too heavy), and Whittingham (another Scotch revival).

Other, slightly crazier ideas include Perpetua (probably x-height too small), Fenice, New Caledonia, or Farnham (display weights should be nice and light).

Hope this helps.

John Nolan's picture

You could also try Arnhem from OurType, Cycles, or Brunel.

CameronWilliams's picture

I was going to suggest both Walbaum and Fenice, but raph beat me to it. You could also try DeVinne or, for less contrast, Century Expanded.

typerror's picture

It's a shame the italic w is so idiosyncratic in Brunel.

johnbutler's picture

Second on the Scotch Modern (Mr. Shinn's most impressive feat yet).

Also check out

H&FJ's Chronicle
Emigre's Mrs Eaves XL
Alexey Kryukov's Old Standard (if you can do with just two weights plus one italic)

...depending on what you're looking for.

You mentioned tall x-height... Mrs Eaves XL certainly has that in spades. She's Mrs Eaves' "endomorphic" sister. There's also a narrow (mesomorphic?) version.

H&FJ's Chronicle has four grades per weight that let you fine-tune the color.

mrschwartz's picture


When designing a historically-based typeface as a survey of a genre - in the case of Brunel, the English Moderns released by a number of foundries (including but not limited to the work of the Caslon foundry and John Isaac Drury) between about 1790 and 1850, as Matthew Carter's Miller is a survey of Scotch Romans from a number of different punchcutters - rather than a revival of a specific typeface, one of the main challenges is deciding which divergent forms are worth keeping, and how to prioritize them. It's the same old problem any responsible designer runs into when reviving something old: how do you balance making an accurate record of what existed while making something relevant to contemporary typography?

In the case of the italic v and w, Paul felt that the earlier, more idiosyncratic forms of v and w, which are structurally quite similar to the Transitionals that came just before the first Moderns (i.e. the work of Richard Austin or John Baskerville), were interesting and beautiful, and well worth making the default form in part because they make a statement about the early Moderns, which tended to be much more organic than the later ones. This form was simplified over the following decades into the simpler, more familiar v and w, and we have included those as alternates as well. I'm generally not fond of stuffing fonts full of alternates, because I feel that they can quickly turn into a type designer avoiding making choices about what a typeface should look like, but in this case the alternate v and w seemed necessary, as they were also historically accurate and important.

(edited - my image didn't show up the first time around)

typerror's picture


It is not that I think that the "wild and crazy" w should not have been a part of the font, just maybe in a secondary position... as the alternate. To me as a calligrapher/lettering artist I think they stick out as a sore thumb! Not ugly mind you! but maybe like a disruptive child in a classroom. Purely and simply subjective on my part... not to cast aspersions. I see a more cohesive flow in the second eg. Especially for text.

Nice work by the way, as always a class act.


Nick Shinn's picture

...Especially for text.

Have you seen a text setting of this face?

blank's picture

I third Nick’s Scotch Modern—go look at what they’ve done with it in Interview. Of course, if I were to design a magazine with Scotch Modern I would ditch Trade Gothic and use Figgins Sans for headlines, even if it meant commissioning a condensed variant :)

Reynolds's picture

Wow, thanks for all the suggestions everyone. I'm currently sorting through, seeing which might fit. Raph you mentioned using a display weight of Farnham, is that ok practice? Doesn't the higher contrast end up making it harder to read?

typerror's picture

"Have you seen a text setting of this face?"

Yes Nick I have. Thank you very much. Was that inquisitive or condescending?


Nick Shinn's picture

Condescending? Moi?

I just wanted to make sure you weren't jumping to conclusions about the suitability of the swashy w for text, based on online display specimens.

typerror's picture


Not a chance : )

Corresponded with Christian this weekend and he thought I brought up an(the) interesting point.


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