Regular wider than Black

This is gonna be a weird one. Is it terribly bad if some capitals get wider in the Regular weight than they were in Black? I mean the advance width – it found it growing a bit more as more spacing was needed for the lighter weight, so I kept tweaking the original Black making it wider, so as to keep things more or less "logical", but now I've started to wonder...


  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,291
    Density is the controlling factor.  The mass of the positive plays against the mass of the negative.  You need not add so much width to the regular to create the proper illusion of weight.  With the the blackest weight comes the smallest space between letters as the side bearing space plays against the counter space. Close proximity brings a magnetic tension.  I would not be so concerned about the advance with comparison between weights as you do about between glyphs.
  • Exactly. As the width increasing the negative space is getting smaller inside the glyphs, so it needs other compensation.

    So the reason why lighter weights have larger side bearings is that the size of the bearing is related to the negative space in the letters (and the shape of the glyph and other things too), the lighter the letter the larger the side bearings are.

    It is not only how caps are spaced but lowercase too. Although there are few exceptions, check the link, I actually just watched this video about spacing yesterday :smiley:How to Space a Font. FontLab Studio 5 tutorial with Thomas Phinne
  • Although I agree that one is focused on other things in spacing, I will say that it would be very rare that a well-spaced bold would have narrower set width than the regular of the same typeface. It would likely be a surprisingly condensed bold, or have some other unusual aspect of its design.
  • I have a horizontal contrast face that wound up setting shorter as it got bolder. But absent that unconventional modulation I agree that I’d expect bold weights to set wider. 
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,246
    edited October 2020
    It can happen with geometric faces where the round characters (C, D, G, O, Q) are perfect circles (more or less). Since these characters will be the exact same width (or nearly so), and given that the sidebearing get larger as the weight gets lighter, the lighter weights may set wider, especially when a lot of round characters are used in a line of text. On the other hand, straight-sided characters get wider as they get bolder, so that works in the opposite way. I discovered this with my Mostra family. The middle weights set the narrowest while the lightest and boldest set the widest.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,291
    However, The hairline versions start to space tighter because they are only used at very large sizes
  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 643
    edited October 2020
    Thanks everyone for the input. Well, actually in this case my black caps were originally too narrow (compared to black lowercase – or the lc was too wide, who knows!) and that's the whole story I think. But I wanted to theorize for a bit with you guys.
    @Mark Simonson If we assume black and hairline are for display only, does it make sense to space them for display and space the middle weights for text? (Odds are the black will be already spaced tight, so the question is maybe about the hairline/light.) That would equalize the set width by the way!
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,291
    Space your weights for how they are to be used, not to how they may compare by ruler

  • @Chris Lozos Right, you had answered my last question right above it! Thanks again.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,246
    edited October 2020
    @Adam Jagosz With Mostra, all the weights are mainly for display settings. This peculiarity wouldn't necessarily be the case, depending on the design of the spacing. In the case of Mostra, I was going after a 1930s look, not a tight 1970s look. The proportions of some of the letters change across the weights as well, as you can see with the /H.

  • Jens KutilekJens Kutilek Posts: 258
    edited October 2020
    Yanone Kaffeesatz is another typeface where the Bold is generally narrower than the lighter weights.

  • Yanone Kaffeesatz is another typeface where the Bold is generally narrower than the lighter weights
    ...and has a lower x-height at the same time, or at least apparent x-height. That seems hardly reasonable (I'd even expect a small x-height increase in Bold for optical correction) but I'd love to be proven wrong.
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