What is the proper name to give to each Weight? — TyMS WEIGHTS (#TW) THESIS.

Pedro MascarenhasPedro Mascarenhas Posts: 19
edited February 2021 in Technique and Theory

​I just publish in TyMS (Typefaces Measure System) website my first thesis to share with the community, this thesis proposes a method so that the different weights (statics, masters and instances) of the fonts will be named according to their optical thickness and not according to the free will of each Tyner (Type Designer).

The names of the weights and the order of the list that you will see in this thesis are still work in progress. As Stefan from Cape Arcona advised me, I opened the discussion to the community to help me fine tune the names, hoping later on to make the final list as consensual as possible. Please give me your contribute to order the final list. See the all thesis here: https://pedromascarenhas.wixsite.com/tyms



  • Try adding Semi-Demi-Medium to make it even more confusing to users. A markup nightmare in small sizes.
  • Thank for your wised feedback. For me bolder's weights are the most incoherent. See this example, even in the same typeface, Futura the weights choices made for each designer are not consensual. Bitstream made Heavy lighter then Bold and cold ExtraBlack for what called ExtraBold. Monotype Now made the ExtraBold looks like Bold... 
  • Futura is not a good example of weight name choices. It has long had that reputation.
  • Russell McGormanRussell McGorman Posts: 255
    edited February 2021
    What about numerical values? If a stem weight has a value of 500, why not just call it 500 instead of medium? Words can be imprecise.

  • Russel, I absolute agree with you, that why i tried to add css number to all weights names but i do believe that names must keep because they still help user on there search work.
  • What about numerical values? If a stem weight has a value of 500, why not just call it 500 instead of medium? Words can be imprecise.

    First, I agree that the number could be more useful than words in terms of distinguishing members of a large family.

    That said...

    1) The weightclass numbers are familiar to web designers and type designers, but not to other users. For example, the average user of Word or Google Docs will not know these. (Yet.)

    2) Neither 500 nor Medium has any intrinsic meaning, so there is a still an arbitrary aspect.

    3) The average user might similarly not know whether Bold or Heavy is heavier, but that problem is more easily and universally solved by apps: they should sorting styles (in part) by WeightClass. Adobe started doing this about 20 years ago.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,058
    edited February 2021

    The Regular weight of my current project, a type with extremely short x-height, which I have adapted from a normally-proportioned typeface by combining its Light weight, for majuscules, and Bold (with extended ascenders), for minuscules. With some other adjustments, of course; nonetheless, this disparity between cases would appear to falsify your theory, Pedro.
  • Prior to OpenType 1.8, usWeightClass was just a USHORT along with several pre-defined values. So there are still fonts in the wild with a weight of 1000 or more. For example Audimat Mono has a weight of 11010. Later it was set more strict as now the range is from 1 to 1000. We have settled with this list for now, which lacks a description for the lowest weight.

  • Nick Shinn, 

    your post is very relevant. 

    In my study I understood that are so many "not normal" fonts in the market that a universal thesis will always found some grains of sand in gear. That's why i say in the chapter "What about disruted fonts?"  that Some fonts do not follow the rules established by the status quo of font design (and fortunately because it is in creativity and breaking the rules that evolution finds its way into the future), so for these disrupted fonts, Tyner's common sense it's very important to interpret what is the #PST of the font, and then give it the most correct weight name, the name that has the same optical weight as the fonts considered "normal".

    With TyMS Weight it will be more easy for "not normal" fonts to find whats the best weight name to give, don't you think?

  • John Hudson.
    Thanks for you wised share.
    I will take that in mind when i will review the weights names.
  • Erwin Denissen and Thomas Phinney
    Good posts.  The main thing for me and other graphic and editorial designer (fonts consumers), is not if the bold is 500 or regular is 400.
    What we need is that all Regular looks the same optical thickness and all Bold also, and so on. And for that the most important is that tyners name there fonts with the same thickness logic.
  • Craig.
    Good point, as always.
    But if it's all about "the proportions of black and white" what is that proportion of each weight? because as i showed above with Futura, and found in many other examples, seems tyners don't have the same idea what is the correct proportion. 
    Thats why i didn't follow that thesis and i'm triyng to arrange something simpler with a defined range os steps (proportions).
  • as i showed above with Futura, and found in many other examples, seems tyners [type designers] don't have the same idea what is the correct proportion. 

    This is true. People have different ideas about this. And that is OK and desirable, not a bug to be stamped out.

    For fonts without optical size variants, even something as simple as the ideal weight of “regular” depends on the intended usage size, and other variables, including ... designer preferences. Some folks might prefer a slightly lighter or heavier “regular,” or prefer it in different circumstances.

    One solution for this is making variable fonts. But with existing fonts, the usual solution is to simply choose a different font with the characteristics one desires. Stomping out that variability between font families would be bad, not good, in my opinion.

    And that isn’t the only problem. Adopting a NEW descriptive field such as usWeightClass is easier in that there is not as much backwards compatibility issue. (And even that had more than one would have liked!)

    While you can publish a manifesto or guidelines, you face the critical problem that your solution is not like weightclass. To make it work, most existing typefaces would need to be substantially redesigned.

    Even if one thought your end state of all fonts having the same weight designations was viable and meaningful (and I don’t, for the reasons above, AND the reasons @Craig Eliason stated), retrofitting existing families would be a ton of work and would require convincing all their owners that it was worth doing. That seems highly unlikely.

  • Thomas.

    Thanks, your solid arguments, definitively they will hep me in my journey to pass to tyners the anxieties of the graphic designers.

    Just leave here 3 topics

    About "Some folks might prefer a slightly lighter or heavier “regular,” — thats why my thesis leave, not an exact number, but a range for each weight.

    About "usWeightClass" — this things as you know are not closed, they update with the progress.

    About "To make it work, most existing typefaces would need to be substantially redesigned" — No, because i had that in consideration, so almost all of them already fit the metrics of my thesis. Those who don't fit are the most inconsistent ones.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,058
    edited February 2021
    What is considered “Regular” for a sans has changed over time.
    Gill Sans, for instance, has never had a “Regular”, its normal weight was originally what we would now term Medium.

    When I updated some of my earlier digital designs, I revised the weight names, making the old Light the new Regular.

    There were four factors, I think, involved in the historical lightening of the default:
    1. The habit of typographers working on screen with zoomed-in images led to a lot of printed material in very light type (despite the attendant readability issues), with the norm for sans body text becoming correspondingly lighter in weight.
    2. The transition to higher-res printing and screens has enabled lighter sans types to render better.
    3. Hairline styles are now the easiest weight to craft—previously the most difficult!
    4. These hardware-driven changes created a fashion for lighter types.

      Seeing the Light—an article I wrote on the topic in 2001.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,815
    edited February 2021
    What we need is that all Regular looks the same optical thickness and all Bold also, and so on. And for that the most important is that tyners name there fonts with the same thickness logic.

    If that is the goal, then I really think you have to come at it other than through the traditional weight naming or even the numeric weight classes as defined by CSS and recent iterations of the OS/2 table spec. Those systems by virtue of both how they are defined and how they are used are not going to produce optical weight equivalence between different typefaces. Yes, a type designer or group of type designers could decide to use those systems in a specific way relative to the internal design space weight range, in such a way that fonts made in that way would have optical weight equivalence, but this would still be a private convention without any standardisation that would enable interoperability with other fonts or in software controls.

    This implies a new system for dialing weight variants that is explicitly intended to produce optical weight equivalence, with strict implementation rules to ensure interoperability. David Berlow has gone some way towards this in his parametric variable fonts, and a project like fauxfoundry has demonstrated the interoperability potential of such an approach, but it still seems to be under-specified in a number of respects, such that it isn’t clear how to maintain the relevance of a measurement system across multiple writing systems that do not share common structures and proportions. As Craig and Nick pointed out, there is a lot more to optically balancing weight than just matching stem weights or considering stem weights in ratio to particular heights.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,815
    PS. I have for a while now thought that the only way to achieve optical equivalence interoperably—not just in terms of weight, but also proportion—may be to standardise a common reference model.
  • Many friends who are contributing, in this and other forums, to this discussion, are referring to how interpolation can do this job, without the need for so many static weights.

    Let me illuminate, as an art director, the problems I encountered in this.
    When working with a team of designers, web designers and editors on an editorial or brand project, we need to define rules: text size, leading, colors ... weights. We simply cannot give these decisions to everyone's free will. Therefore, when using interpolation fonts, we must also define rules on this subject.

    On the other hand, the theory that interpolation is optimal "because it allows to adjust the thickness according to the medium in which it is being used" is misleading because the font is used in so many and so different media that it makes this strict control impossible.

    In the end, I realized that interpolation, in most projects, tends to be used as a static font.
  • ...but could we agree that "tyner" should never, ever be a thing? ;)
    Definitely. It sounds dismissive, therefore somewhat offensive, to me.

  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,815
    Even if implementation within typographic design employs particular instances—whether as static fonts per se or using specific variable font settings—the instances involved may or may not correspond to named instances in the font family space. So coming up with an expanded set of static weight instance names still doesn’t mean that the desired weight instances in a typographic layout, branding project, etc. are going to correspond to one or other of those names.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,058
    edited February 2021

    There is one absolute weight quality that is determined by the type-designer/font, not the typographer/layout application. It is the weight at which vertical stem width equals stem-to-stem distance.

    Of course, this is a weight that it is best for type designers (and typographers using variable-weight fonts) to avoid, for reasons of optical dazzle, but nonetheless…
  • ...but could we agree that "tyner" should never, ever be a thing? ;)
    Definitely. It sounds dismissive, therefore somewhat offensive, to me.

    Above all, it does not even *remotely* recall "type designer" – at least to non-English ears. :D
  • Same to English ears. Is it someone who lives near the river Tyne? Or someone who does unspeakable things with forks? 
  • K PeaseK Pease Posts: 180
    It is not so much the word itself as how it is being used that seems like a warning sign. In the context of proposing a prescriptive system that says we can't be trusted to name our own typefaces however we want — already something of an issue with many software applications — to keep pushing this neologism (for what we're supposed to call ourselves, no less) seems symptomatic of an extremely optimistic estimation of how easily the whole world will adopt anything you decide. This is further belied by the mildly creepy sentiment that soliciting feedback on the system before it is set in stone makes it "as consensual as possible." It is the sort of confidence one sees in a person who has patented a spelling reform.
  • Thanks to all good feeds i received TyMS Weights is updated. Take a look at https://pedromascarenhas.wixsite.com/tyms
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