Deciding on the weight for Regular and Bold

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Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture
Joined: 26 Jan 2005 - 8:47pm
Deciding on the weight for Regular and Bold

I have released three fonts, Shuneet, Shuneet Oblique and Shuneet Square
see I am designing seven weights for the font Shuneet and would like to match the weights of the other two(Shuneet Oblique and Shuneet Square) to them. The weights are light, thin, book, medium, demi-bold, bold and heavy.

I have looked at a number of commercial fonts available in regular and bold and calculated their weights according to the Panose scheme:

Calabri: Medium and Bold.
Tahoma: Demi-Bold and Heavy
Arial: A light Demi-Bold and a dark Bold

They are all over the place! Calabri is the most recent design so does this represent a current accepted practice? When I press the [Bold] button in a word processor can I expect a Medium font to become a Bold font (by the Panose definition)?

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am

I'm not sure how relevant/practical Panose is.

Although there are trends that change over time*, I don't
think there is (or even can be) "current accepted practice".
One good guideline though is to think in pairs: a light and
and a dark with the latter serving as a "bold" for the former.
This means that a range of weights isn't necessarily spaced
evenly (I mean not even optically).

* Like the 70s was the age of light fonts
while since the late 90s we've thankfully
been seeing more meat on the bones.

Tahoma's Bold is very dark because of screen rendering facilitation.


David Bergsland's picture
Joined: 16 Apr 2009 - 7:23am

Isn't the key simply making sure there is enough contrast between the regular and bold so that the reader sees the bold effortlessly? I know I've gone to Light-Bold and Regular-Black combinations, but every font is different.

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am

I am designing seven weights for the font Shuneet

I have looked at a number of commercial fonts [Calabri, Tahoma, Arial]
As Hrant already noted, the fonts you picked were especially engineered for screen rendering, while I suspect Panose is still geared towards print.

Charles Ellertson's picture
Joined: 3 Nov 2004 - 11:00am

I suppose it depends on what you're trying to cover.

Ink on paper is one case, but the method of putting the ink on paper matters. Laser and inkjet printing take a different weight than offset printing for the running text. Within offset printing, the type of paper used can matter as well. If you get right on the ragged edge of a particular weight, a type weight might work fine with coated or uncoated paper, but not the other. Merlo is an example -- works well with coated stock, not so well with uncoated.

Then there is pixels on screen. Not my area of expertise, but I think weighting is different than for ink on paper.

I don't know any way to be sure other than to test. You can make pretty good guesses by finding a few types that work well with the desired medium, then extrapolate to your fonts.

Once you have a "regular" and/or a "book" -- depending on how you sort such things for general text, "bold" has to serve it's function. Most of use who use type find it helps if there is a semi-bold and a black as well, in order to have just the right emphasis for whatever one's doing.

Michael Cunliffe Thompson's picture
Joined: 26 Jan 2005 - 8:47pm

Thanks for your comments. My font is a Hebrew font with matching Latin.
I have used the Latin upper case E as a basis for the Panose weights.
I'm just using the Panose scheme to get a suitable range of weights.
The Hebrew letters will be slightly darker and slightly higher than the
Latin lower case.

The Hebrew is a san-serif design intended for presentation and decorative

However back to Latin... The fonts I looked at (Calabri, Tahoma and Arial)
happen to be on my computer. Could you suggest fonts to examine that are
for printing?