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Category Serif
Classification Vox-ATypI: Didone
British: Didone
Bringhurstian: Romantic
Designer(s) Giambattista Bodoni
Date created 1798
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.[1] The typeface is classified as Didone modern. Bodoni followed the ideas of John Baskerville, as found in the printing type Baskerville: increased stroke contrast[2] 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.

When first released, Bodoni, and other didone fonts, were called classical designs. However,upon closer inspection it became evident that these fonts were not updated versions of classical type styles, but were in fact new designs. This meant that they were renamed modern fonts and then from to mid 20th century they were known as didone fonts.[3] 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).

Massimo Vignelli stated that 'Bodoni is one of the most elegant typefaces ever designed.'[4]


Bodoni admired the work of John Baskerville[5] 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,[6] 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 created in 1909,[7] 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. This revival is regarded as "the first accurate revival of a historical face for general printing and design applications".[8]
    • 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.[9]
  • Haas Type Foundry produced a version which was then licenced to D. Stempel AG, Amsterdam Type Foundry, and Berthold.[10]
  • 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[11]

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.[12]

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 created for posters, designed by Chauncey H. Griffith in 1929.[13]


Journal de Bruxelles, was a French revolutionary republic newspaper edited during the French occupation of Brussels. The typeface used is Bodoni.
  • Bodoni has been used for a wide variety of material, ranging from 18th century Italian books to 1960s periodicals. In the 21st century, the late manner versions continue to be used in advertising, while the early manner versions are occasionally used for fine book printing.[citation needed]
  • Poster Bodoni is used in Mamma Mia! posters.[14]
  • Bodoni is one of the two typesets that is used by Hilton Hotels for restaurant or bar menu content.
  • Sony's Columbia Records (owned by CBS from 1938 to 1989) also utilizes Bodini for their wordmark.
  • Nirvana's logo is written with Bodoni(specifically Bodoni Poster-Compressed).
  • Bauer Bodoni Black is used for Carnegie Mellon University's wordmark.
  • Bauer Bodoni Roman is used for Brandeis University's wordmark.
  • Tom Clancy used Bodoni font for the artwork of all his affiliated works until his novel Dead or Alive.
  • A variation of Bodoni called "Postoni" is the primary headline font for The Washington Post newspaper.[15]
  • Bodoni was the favorite typeset of Ted Hughes, UK Poet Laureate, 1984–1998.[16]
  • Roman Bauer Bodoni is used in Slow Food's logotype[17]
  • Bodoni has been used in Manila Bulletin's headline text until the early 2000s.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Arntson, A. (1988). Graphic design basics. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, p.92.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Loxley, S. (2004). Type. London: I.B. Tauris, p.63.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Clair, K. and Busic-Snyder, C. (2005). A typographic workbook. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, p.272.
  9. ^ MacGrew, Mac, American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century, Oak Knoll Books, New Castle Delaware, 1993, ISBN 0-938768-34-4, p. 45.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Specimen Book of Bauer Types (second edition), Bauer Type Foundry, Inc., New York City, c. 1938, pp. E2 – E10.
  12. ^ Lawson, Alexander, Archie Provan, and Frank Romano, Primer Metal Typeface Identification, National Composition Association, Arlington, Virginia, 1976, pp. 34 – 35.
  13. ^ Clair, K. and Busic-Snyder, C. (2005). A typographic workbook. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, p.273
  14. ^ "Posters, Signposting & Calendars". Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Hughes, Collected Works (preface, p. v". Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  17. ^


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  • 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 .
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