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Category Serif
Classification Vox-ATypI: Didone
British: Didone
Bringhurstian: Romantic
Designer(s) Giambattista Bodoni
Variations Berthold Bodoni Antiqua
LTC Bodoni 175
Linotype Bodoni
Bauer Bodoni
Shown here ITC Bodoni Seventy Two
Facsimile of lines from Dante's "La Vita Nuova" first published with Bodoni types by the Officina Bodoni in 1925. Actual font is the digital Bodoni Monotype published in 1999.

Bodoni is a series of serif typefaces first designed by Giambattista Bodoni (1740–1813) in 1798. The typeface is classified as Didone modern. Bodoni followed the ideas of John Baskerville, as found in the printing type Baskerville: increased stroke contrast and a more vertical, slightly condensed, upper case; but took them to a more extreme conclusion. Bodoni had a long career and his designs evolved and varied, ending with a typeface of narrower underlying structure with flat, unbracketed serifs, extreme contrast between thick and thin strokes, and an overall geometric construction. Though these later designs are rightfully called "modern", the earlier designs are "transitional". Some digital versions of Bodoni are said to be hard to read due to "dazzle" caused by the alternating thick and thin strokes, particularly as the thin strokes are very thin at small point sizes. This only occurs when display versions are used at text sizes, and it is also true of much display type that is used at text sizes. Non-dazzling versions of Bodoni that are intended to be used at text size are "Bodoni Old Face", optimized for 9 points; ITC Bodoni 12 (for 12 points); and ITC Bodoni 6 (for 6 points).


Bodoni admired the work of John Baskerville and studied in detail the designs of French type founders Pierre Simon Fournier and Firmin Didot. Although he drew inspiration from the work of these designers[citation needed], above all from Didot, no doubt Bodoni found his own style for his typefaces, which deservedly gained worldwide acceptance among printers.

Distinctive visual characteristics[edit]

Distinctive characteristics of this typeface include:

Lower case:

  • Round dot over the letter i.
  • Double story a.

Upper case:

  • The tail of the Q is centered under the letter.
  • The J has a slight hook.
  • There are two versions of R, one with a straight tail and one with a curved tail.

Foundry type revivals and variants[edit]

There have been many revivals of the Bodoni typeface; ATF Bodoni and Bauer Bodoni are two of the more successful.

  • ATF's Bodoni series, was the first American revival of the face. All variants were designed by Morris Fuller Benton who captured the flavor of Bodoni’s original while emphasizing legibility rather than trying to push against the limits of printing technology.
    • Bodoni (1909)
    • Bodoni Italic (1910)
    • Bodoni Book (1910)
    • Bodoni Book Italic (1911)
    • Bodoni Bold + Italic (1911)
    • Bodoni Bold Shaded (1912)
    • Bodoni Shaded Initials (1914)
    • Card Bodoni (1915)
    • Card Bodoni Bold (1917)
    • Bodoni Open (1918)
    • Bodoni Book Expanded (1924)
    • Ultra Bodoni + italic (1928)
    • Bodoni Bold Condensed (1933)
    • Ultra Bodoni Condensed + extra condensed (1933)
    • Engravers Bodoni (1933), designed in 1926.
    • Bodoni #175 + italic (1911)
    • Bodoni #375 + italic (1930), based on the Benton version.
    • Recut Bodoni Bold + italic
    • Bodoni Bold Condensed (Sol Hess, 1934)
    • Bodoni Light + italic (Robert Wiebking, 1923)
    • True-Cut Bodoni + italic (Wiebking, 1923), based on actual specimens at the Newberry Library.
    • Bodoni Bold + italic (Wiebking, 1930)
    • Bodoni Modern + italic (R. Hunter Middleton, 1936), probably the most faithful recutting.
  • Damon Type Foundry offered a Bodoni under the name Bartlet.
  • Linotype and Intertype also produced matrices for machine composition that were somewhat narrower than the fondry type versions.[1]
  • Haas Type Foundry produced a version which was then licenced to D. Stempel AG, Amsterdam Type Foundry, and Berthold.[2]
  • The Bauer Type Foundry version was drawn by Heinrich Jost in 1926. The Bauer version emphasizes the extreme contrast between hairline and main stroke. The series included the following weights:
    • Bodoni Roman
    • Bodoni Title
    • Bodoni Bold
    • Bodoni Italic
    • Bodoni Italic Bold[3]

Cold type versions[edit]

As it had been a standard type for many years, Bodoni was widely available in cold type. Alphatype, Autologic, Berthold, Compugraphic, Dymo, Harris, Mergenthaler, MGD Graphic Systems, and Varityper, Hell AG, Monotype, all sold the face under the name Bodoni, while Graphic Systems Inc. offered the face as Brunswick and Star/Photon called their version BodoniStar.[4]

Digital versions[edit]

Digital revivals include Bodoni Antiqua, Bodoni Old Face, ITC Bodoni Seventy Two, ITC Bodoni Six, ITC Bodoni Twelve, Bodoni MT, LTC Bodoni 175, WTC Our Bodoni, Bodoni EF, Bodoni Classico, and TS Bodoni. Zuzana Licko's Filosofia is considered by some to be a revival of Bodoni, but it is a highly personal, stylish, and stylized spinoff, rather than a revival. Although intended to be usable at text sizes, it represents the early period of the designer's career when interletter spacing was yet to be conquered, so has found use primarily in advertising.

Digital Bodoni types[edit]

Digital Bodonis typically suffer from a particular kind of legibility degradation. Personal computers generate different sizes of type from a single font of type outlines using mathematical scaling, while printers working with metal type use fonts whose designs have been subtly adjusted to provide optical compensation for improved legibility at specific sizes—for example, opening up counters and expanding the character widths at small sizes. Typefaces like Bodoni tend to highlight these differences of technological application. Many digital revivals are based on designs adjusted for relatively large sizes, making the already thin hairlines very thin when scaled down. Some digital type designers are rediscovering the older lore of "optical scaling", and subsequently turning out more sensible revivals aimed at pleasing human eyes. The most extensive effort in this respect is Sumner Stone's version of Bodoni for three sizes (6 point, 12 point, 72 point): ITC Bodoni. Another important Bodoni optimized for book printing (9 point) is Günther Gerhard Lange's "Bodoni Old Face" from the Berthold library. Most other versions are best used at display sizes.[citation needed]

Poster Bodoni[edit]

Poster Bodoni is a variant designed for posters, designed by Chauncey H. Griffith.


Journal de Bruxelles, was a French revolutionary republic newspaper edited during the French occupation of Brussels. The typeface used is Bodoni.


  1. ^ MacGrew, Mac, American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century, Oak Knoll Books, New Castle Delaware, 1993, ISBN 0-938768-34-4, p. 45.
  2. ^ Jaspert, W. Pincus, W. Turner Berry and A.F. Johnson. The Encyclopedia of Type Faces. Blandford Press Lts.: 1953, 1983, ISBN 0-7137-1347-X, p. 25.
  3. ^ Specimen Book of Bauer Types (second edition), Bauer Type Foundry, Inc., New York City, c. 1938, pp. E2 – E10.
  4. ^ Lawson, Alexander, Archie Provan, and Frank Romano, Primer Metal Typeface Identification, National Composition Association, Arlington, Virginia, 1976, pp. 34 – 35.
  5. ^ "Posters, Signposting & Calendars". Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  6. ^ "Hughes, Collected Works (preface, p. v". Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  7. ^
  • Carter, Rob, Ben Day, and Philip Meggs. Typographic Design: Form and Communication. John Wiley & Sons, Inc: 1993. ISBN 0-471-28430-0.
  • Dodd, Robin. From Gutenberg to Opentype. Hartley & Marks Publishers, Inc.: 2006. ISBN 0-88179-210-1.
  • Friedl, Friedrich, Nicholas Ott, and Bernard Ott. Typography: an Encyclopedia Survey of Type Design and Techniques Throughout History. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc: 1998. ISBN 1-57912-023-7 .
  • Frey, David. X-Height FontHaus’s Online Magazine. DsgnHaus, Inc. 2006.
  • Lawson, Alexander S., Anatomy of a Typeface. Godine: 1990. ISBN 978-0-87923-333-4.
  • Nesbitt, Alexander The History and Technique of Lettering Dover Publications: 1975. ISBN 0-486-20427-8