Line width

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Left: Font with variable line width, right: Font with constant line width

In typography , the line width of a font is the width of a visible line created with a physical or imaginary writing implement , of which the glyphs of a font consist.

As stroke contrast or short stroke contrast , refers to how much the change in the line width is pronounced within the glyphs of a font. Among the antiqua fonts, for example, the Bodoni has a particularly high line contrast. In the case of fonts with a constant (or seemingly constant) line width, there is no line contrast at all.

Fonts with variable weights

Antiqua typeface (with an imitation pen stroke). a: upstroke (hairline) and base (shadowline), b: shadow axis
Fracture (imitated pen stroke)

When writing by hand with virtually all traditional writing instruments arise naturally thinner and thicker lines. In the case of a bird or ribbon pen, the line thickness varies due to the inclined position of the pen compared to the base line. Here, as a rule, the base line , a vertical shaft drawn from top to bottom , is a broad line, and the diagonal drawn from top left to bottom right is also wide. In contrast, the upstroke , a diagonal drawn from bottom left to top right (or vice versa), is a finer line. This is particularly clear with the capital letters “A”, “W” and “V”.

With other writing implements such as a pointed nib or a brush , the line thickness is varied by applying different pressure or in another way. This results in other design options and other characteristic patterns. In particular, the pointed nib allows different line widths in each direction depending on the pressure, which increases the design possibilities.

In the calligraphy this line width variations are of great importance, but also in typography, because this oriented in particular at the beginning of printing with movable type very similar to the handwritten forms of letters and mimicked the typeface of the manual writing, such as Baroque-Antiqua - Fonts. With Gothic fonts too, emphasizing the contrast between the thinner and thicker lines is a common stylistic device. In typography, the base line is also referred to as the shadow line and the upstream line as the hairline , in short: "hair and shadow". With curves, there are flowing transitions between the base and hairline. Since the inclination of the nib remains constant while writing (with a few exceptions), the pure base and hairlines (without the flowing transitions) are perpendicular to each other and at a constant angle to the base line. This angle is called the shadow axis in typography .

Italian fonts are a special form , in which the line contrast is reversed : the horizontal lines are thick and the vertical lines are thin.

Constant line width fonts

Helvetica (a grotesque linear antiqua)

For fonts with constant line width, there is little or no variation in the line width of the lines that make up the glyphs. Sometimes horizontal lines are made a little thinner than vertical ones; sometimes there are also shadow axes. These fonts are also called "linear". If they are Antiqua fonts, they belong to the Linear Antiqua .

These fonts are sans serif fonts that are to sans serif, but also some Egyptienne fonts with serifs strongly emphasized, such as the Rockwell . Also typewriter fonts usually have a constant or nearly constant line width and are often among the Egyptienne. This group also includes broken sans serif fonts , which are typically based on a textura .

Font weights

A font family includes multiple typefaces in this context as - with different line width font weight , font thickness or font fats (also simply fats ), respectively. The variation in the font weight indicates how black a font is. Most fonts come in at least two weights, normal and bold.

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Line width - meaning / definition. In: Typography Lexicon., accessed February 7, 2019 .