Book, Regular, Medium

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  • When was the last time a graphic designer said: “I don’t know what this Roman font is inside the Avenir set; I don’t see the difference.”… 
    Well, more often than one can imagine, I guess. If one is not learned with historical type terminology it’s a legitimate question.
  • One problem with using "Roman" as a weight name: It is generally taken to mean "not italic" or "upright". We speak of fonts as having "roman" and "italic" styles.
    In a single sentence you said better what I goofily tried to convey before. Mark, you’re an asset! :-)
    Besides, I do not think we can never evade neither "taxonomy" nor empiristic approaches, and shared reasoning in general. And that’s good. :)
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,901
    edited October 2019
    Roman has at least four distinct, separate meanings in typography:
    - regular weight
    - upright instead of italic
    - derived from roman letterforms (e.g. Trajan)
    - Latin-based writing systems (at least, in printer character sets, this is/was an historic term, there would be "Roman" vs Japanese for example)
  • edited October 2019
    Looking at the historical context, it also helps to understand that Adrian Frutiger chose Avenir Roman in 1987, a year before Avenir was released by Linotype. It was a different world back then, with Linotype and Berthold dominating the font space and Monotype was the third, smaller player. It was before FontFont became relevant in the “desktop publishing” revolution. Adobe began to buy font licenses and make partnerships with companies like Linotype to release fonts under their own label.
    I think the notion that Regular became more established with the revolution of digital typesetting has some merit. Independently of its accuracy, it has been culturally acknowledged as a term.
  • edited October 2019
    In my conclusion, using Book and Regular next to each other in my font family will have the following consequences:
    • It has been done before and not many people seemed to bother
    • It doesn’t mean the family becomes unusable for graphic designers
    • Modern apps on contemporary operating systems don’t seem to have issues with it (macOS Mojave/Catalina, iOS, Android, Chrome OS, Windows 10)
    • The general public doesn’t care
    • Purists will continue to argue that it isn’t right
    • Hardly anyone will likely think Book is only meant for book printing
    I learned that using Roman instead of Regular would have more potential for confusion, due to the various meanings it occupies in the same field.
    Whether Regular for the main body font is or is not appropriate, is another subject up for discussion. I find all points made against the use of Regular worth considering, but looking at common practice, one cannot argue that it isn’t well established by now. We may not like it as it is, but it does a job and it does it well.
  • Claudio PiccininiClaudio Piccinini Posts: 334
    edited October 2019
    I think the notion that Regular became more established with the revolution of digital typesetting has some merit. Independently of its accuracy, it has been culturally acknowledged as a term.
    Yes, that is the point to me. There are obviously no "perfect" terms and I agree that "Regular" is enough descriptive, well established and historical.
    And of course Thomas is right about the multiple levels of meaning of "Roman", which make it a bit ambiguous (personally I always think of the harmonic proportions of the roman inscriptions, so I would not call a DIN-like typeface roman, rather I would use it for the Regular if I am designing an alphabet with this kind of internal tension).

    So, if I understand correctly, you’d use "Book" as a lighter, intermediate weight between "Light" and "Regular"?
  • That is correct, Claudio. I will use it as it has been used in many other families I found. I have rarely seen a case where Book was the bolder weight of Regular.
  • @Henning von Vogelsang: Thanks for starting this discussion. It’s been educative and engaging. :)
    P.S. I’d love to see how your "Savoir" typeface comes out, especially a slightly heavier "Text" weight would be great. I like the forms a lot. :)
  • In my conclusion, using Book and Regular next to each other in my font family will have the following consequences:
    • It has been done before and not many people seemed to bother
    • It doesn’t mean the family becomes unusable for graphic designers
    • Modern apps on contemporary operating systems don’t seem to have issues with it (macOS Mojave/Catalina, iOS, Android, Chrome OS, Windows 10) 

    Unless something has changed (always possible they have addressed the architecture issue that causes it): Adobe InDesign will treat these two styles (Book and Regular) as the same: you will only be able to see and access one of them in the app.

    I am not sure I would say that makes the family “unusable,” but if your target audience includes people who use InDesign, it is at least ... unfortunate.

    InDesign has in the past added special case code for individual families it actively knows about, that have this problem/feature. So if you intend to go down this path, I suggest testing it, and if I am correct, file a bug to get the special-casing of your font into an InDesign update sooner rather than later.
  • edited October 2019
    I tested the font in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, XD and InDesign. It seems to work fine with the Book and Regular version. Hikari Book has 400 and Hikari Regular 500 assigned.
    Thomas, I think they might have fixed that in the current version of their engine.

  • Excellent news!
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 632
    edited October 2019
    I had always thought that Book was not a weight. Rather, the Book version of a typeface was one that was extensively modified for book use.
    For example, look at Bodoni Book, which has less stroke contrast than ordinary Bodoni, among other things.
    And then there's Aldus. That typeface was really intended to be Palatino Book, but for marketing reasons the publisher gave it a fancier name.
    So the Book face is the workhorse version of a typeface that has been modified for reading instead of display.
  • I had always thought that Book was not a weight. Rather, the Book version of a typeface was one that was extensively modified for book use.
    For example, look at Bodoni Book, which has less stroke contrast than ordinary Bodoni, among other things.
    And then there's Aldus. That typeface was really intended to be Palatino Book, but for marketing reasons the publisher gave it a fancier name.
    So the Book face is the workhorse version of a typeface that has been modified for reading instead of display.
    It has surely been so in many cases, but not in others. And thus, the confusion.
    Surely it would have been great if the name took hold in this direction, it would be a lot clearer and could easily be the way to go for optical specific size for books (10-12 pt).
  • MethomMethom Posts: 1
    Hi there, I'm new to typedrawers, and got in here, because I was searching for a definition of the weight "Book". Now someone at dafonts linked me to your discussion. Reading across this extensive thread, I come to the following conclusion: Book is a weight for extensive reading and refers to smaller sizes. Therefore it also refers to optical weights that are optimised for better reading in small sizes, which results in a lowering of contrast by thickening the thinnest strokes in a letter. If Regular is the standard weight (also named as Roman in the past), wich is good for casual setting in 10-12 pt, Book should be a bit darker analogue to optical weights, because long text in publications like books tend to be set in a smaller sizes like 10-8 pt. Even if the font is a grotesque and has less stroke contrast, I would consider Book as a darker weight, because too much white at long text is making the eyes tired. This is something I experienced myself. The smaller type is set, the thinner the strokes get. In result the white of the page is eating up the glyphs and this is tiring the readers eyes. 

    Of course, this is my view, but to me it makes more sense to place a Book weight between Regular and Medium. What definitely makes no sense to me, is to place a Book weight between Regular and Light.
  • I don't think "Regular" refers to the font weight itself, but to the default style. When the weight becomes italic, the style name becomes "Italic", without the Regular name, because it is in the default weight.

    The base scale of weight is the following:
    100 — Thin
    200 — Extralight
    300 — Light
    400
    500 — Medium
    600 — Semibold
    700 — Bold
    800 — Extrabold
    900 — Black
  • Alex VisiAlex Visi Posts: 65
    edited November 19
    Methom said:
    Of course, this is my view, but to me it makes more sense to place a Book weight between Regular and Medium. What definitely makes no sense to me, is to place a Book weight between Regular and Light.
    It depends on what Regular is. Since it (as the opposite of Book) is intended for shorter texts and potentially bigger sizes, it leads to tighter spacing and thicker/stronger strokes. And indeed, If you take as example something like Helvetica Regular, it’s too dark for texts.

    But in general, it’s good idea to name something Book only if you’ve designed it for books. Call it a slightly adjusted weight is misleading and not accurate.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,560
    If you missed the post (above) with the link to my short Quora essay, here is the text:

    “Book” was traditionally (in metal) an exceedingly rare style designation. I was only ever aware of it as referring to the regular weights of Bodoni and Futura, and a subsequent perusal of McGrew’s (American Metal Typefaces) index adds only Graydon Book. There was also Craw Clarendon Book. Why certain foundries chose to use those terms rather than just leave the family name plain for the default (presumably body text weight), which was the common practice for what we now term “Regular”, is open to conjecture. But in fact, that’s not what they did, because they had already designated a heavier weight as the default!

    Bodoni
    For the first of these, Bodoni (ATF, Morris Benton, 1911), “Book” was meant to suggest that while the weight Giambattista Bodoni himself favoured in his Manuale and elsewhere for book work should of course be named “Bodoni”, it was really too heavy (corresponding to what we now consider Bold) for classy text setting in the early 20th century, and hence, pointedly, the regular weight was named Bodoni Book, which also has a nice alliterative ring to it.

    Futura
    In Germany, the default weights of Linotype sans faces such as Neuzeit, Normal-Grotesk and Futura, as designated by Linotype in the mid-century, were more like what we would now term Medium or Semi Bold—the early European modernist movement had made a thing of setting sans text with some heft (druk). So the weight between the sturdy default and Magere (Light) was named Buchschrift (bookfont), again indicating that a lighter weight than the default might be more suitable for extended text setting. This term made its way to the Anglosphere in Futura Book, echoing the Bodoni nomenclature.

    FontLab
    Now, some confusion has been added by a standard used by layout applications to identify and order typeface family font weights by the logic of numbers, rather than name, in which both Regular and Book are accorded the same value (400). This listing in the menus of font design applications such as FontLab adds respectability and status to the previously odd and unusual concept of “Book” weight.

    I once made the mistake of including both Book and Regular fonts in the same typeface family, with the unfortunate result that one of them was not accessible in the font menus of some layout applications.

  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,953
    The term Book became useful in recent times when applied to new revivals of metal types whose initial digital versions had been notably too light because based on technical drawings or inappropriate output from previous technologies. A good example is Bembo Book, which corrected varies problems of weight in the original Bembo PS/TT fonts.
  • Which is another reason it's suboptimal as a weight name.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,560
    edited November 20
    ITC used Book and Medium frequently

    So, “Regular”, as a digital term, was the new (ITC) “Book”?
    —in other words, giving a name to the normal or default, unspecified style.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,266
    It is rarely a smooth journey traveling between paradigms
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,222
    edited November 21
    My guess is that ITC considered both Book and Medium to be suitable as a text style, depending on how light or heavy you preferred your text. I wonder if anyone involved back then is still around who would know what their thinking was.

    "Regular" was used sometimes before the digital era, including some ITC faces.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,014
    For years I made Book the thing between Regular and Light because I assumed FontLab would have them listed in the correct order in the menu. Now I'm stuck with 139 stupid "Book" fonts. My fault for not questioning it.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 632
    edited November 21
    I see that this thread is now really addressing another question. Not what "Book" should mean as an adjective in a typeface name, but what term should be used for the default style of a typeface. Should it be (typeface name), (typeface name) Regular, (typeface name) Roman, or (typeface name) Book?
    Since different type designers and different foundries have made different choices in this matter, it's too late to get universal consistency now, and so all that can really be encouraged is for type designers in the future to use what makes the most sense.
    To my mind, Book should be the opposite of Display. In the past, Roman was used a lot for the version of a typeface that isn't Bold or Italic, but I agree with Thomas Phinney that as it has so many meanings, Regular is preferable - if one doesn't go with just (typeface name).
    And it wouldn't seem strange to me to have an assortment like this:

    Acme Book Italic
    Acme Book
    Acme Book Bold
    Acme Italilc
    Acme
    Acme Bold
    Acme Display Italic
    Acme Display
    Acme Display Bold

    Then it is perfectly clear what each one is: Acme Book is designed for books, Acme Display is designed for display, and just plain Acme is somewhat in between in order to be more versatile. If it doesn't say Italic or Bold, it isn't Italic or Bold. (Of course, along the weight axis, Demibold and Light are also possible.)
    And of course, one can have Bold Italic.
    So one has a design axis, with Book and Display.
    One has a weight axis, with Bold, Demibold and Light.
    One has an inclination axis, with Italic, Sloped and Backslant.

    From my point of view, the only thing I would ask is - where is the problem? If the meaning and function of the names are kept straight, then one can have a three-dimensional space of variations on a typeface without confusion.
    EDIT: But some reflectiion made me wonder if I might be over-optimistic.
    The first thing that came to mind is that one might have a reverse-sloped version of a typeface that is based on the cursive italic, and another that is merely sloped; and we don't have two distinct terms that I know of for these.
    (EDIT: How could I have missed the obvious? All that means is that the historical names Italic and Sloped confound two axes into one, and so one would have Backslant and Cursive Backslant.)
    And then I thought of the italic in Times 569 (the one devised by Monotype for four-line mathematics) as contrasted with the italic of Times 327 (the regular one). Is a special term needed for that? But that seemed to be resolvable in a simple manner, simply place "Math", along with "Book" and "Display", as a possible spot along the design axis; in some typefaces, it need not be only the italic that might be modified for use in mathematical equations.
    EDIT: Of course, it might be asked what is the sense of devising a nomenclature system which would handle hundreds of weights of the same typeface, when no one would want to go there?
    For that, my reply would be simple: a nomenclature scheme so clear and simple that it would not creak under the weight of a thousand weights of the same typeface is also one that won't cause problems with a smaller selection.
    And, of course, there are typefaces these days that go even beyond what I had thought of above; thus, one has Stone Sans and Stone Serif, Noto Sans and Noto Serif, and so on. No one has yet decided to add Egyptian along that axis - or even Weighted, so that in addition to a Stymie-like member of such a family, one could also have an Optima-like member... oh, no, that should be called Flared, reserving Weighted for a Radiant-like member of the family.
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,033
    The fact that people (even people in the know) don't know what to expect from "Book" is all the reason you need to discard it from use from here on out. 
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,033
    Are there examples of typeface families in which the italic/cursive/sloped design was primary (conceptually or chronologically), and a roman/interrupted/upright cut was added? IOW instead of "regular & italic" we have "'regular' & roman"?
  • The fact that people (even people in the know) don't know what to expect from "Book" is all the reason you need to discard it from use from here on out. 
    Now that you bring back the question, I wonder what the word evokes in English language. In Italian, it would be pretty straightforward to expect a series labeled as "Book" (= related to the Book) to be a weight suitable for extensive textsetting.
  • Florian HardwigFlorian Hardwig Posts: 191
    edited November 21
    Interesting question, @Craig Eliason! John Downer’s Triplex Italic comes to mind, which preceded the uprights added by Zuzana Licko.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,560
    edited November 21
    …suitable for extensive textsetting.
    Claudio’s note concerning suggested usage reminds me of Goudy Catalogue (one of Morris Benton’s Goudy additions, 1919).

    It is now available digitally (as a single font only), Goudy Catalogue Std Regular!
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