AskDefine | Define Bodoni

Dictionary Definition



1 Italian printer who designed the Bodoni font (1740-1813) [syn: Gianbattista Bodoni]
2 a typeface (based on an 18th century design by Gianbattista Bodoni) distinguished by regular shape and hairline serifs and heavy downstrokes [syn: modern, modern font, Bodoni font] [ant: old style]

Extensive Definition

Bodoni is the name given to 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, that of increased stroke contrast and a more vertical, slightly condensed, upper case, but taking them to a more extreme conclusion. Bodoni's typeface has a narrower underlying structure with flat, unbracketed serifs. The face has extreme contrast between thick and thin strokes, and an overall geometric construction.
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, above all from Didot, no doubt Bodoni found his own style for his typefaces, which deservedly gained worldwide acceptance among printers.
Many digital versions of Bodoni suffer from a particular kind of legibility degradation known as "dazzle" caused by the alternating thick and thin strokes, particularly from the thin strokes being very thin at small point sizes. In Typographic Design: Form & Communication, the authors describe Bodoni’s uppercase R as a "dazzling contrast and vigorous proportions of modern-style typography. The thick-and-thin scotch rules echo and complement the thick-and-thin stroke weights."

Revivals and variants

There have been many revivals of the Bodoni typeface; ATF Bodoni and Bauer Bodoni are two of the more successful. ATF Bodoni was drawn by Morris Fuller Benton in 1907, and released by American Type Founders. The Bauer version was drawn by Henrich Jost in 1926. The Bauer version emphasizes the extreme contrast between hairline and main stroke. ATF captured the flavor of Bodoni’s original while emphasizing legibility rather than trying to push against the limits of printing technology. Other 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, TS Bodoni, and Filosofia by Zuzana Licko.

Digital Bodoni types

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. Zuzana Licko's Filosofia has none of the problems of dazzle, and meets the test of text reversal even in smaller point sizes.


Bodoni has been used for a wide variety of material, ranging from eighteenth century Italian books to 1960's periodicals.


  • 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 1579120237 .
  • Frey, David. X-Height FontHaus’ Online Magazine. DsgnHaus, Inc. 2006.
  • Lawson, Alexander S., Anatomy of a Typeface. Godine: 1990. ISBN 978-0879233334.
  • Nesbitt, Alexander The History and Technique of Lettering Dover Publications: 1975. ISBN 0-486-20427-8
Bodoni in Italian: Bodoni
Bodoni in Hungarian: Bodoni
Bodoni in Dutch: Bodoni
Bodoni in Japanese: ボドニ
Bodoni in Portuguese: Bauer Bodoni
Bodoni in Russian: Bodoni
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