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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, that of increased stroke contrast and a more vertical, slightly condensed, upper case, but taking them to a more extreme conclusion. Bodoni had a long career and his designs evolved and differed, 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”. Among digital versions, there are two good examples of the earlier, transitional period: Sumner Stone’s ITC Bodoni, and Günther Lange’s “Bodoni Old Face” for Berthold. Virtually all other versions are based on Bodoni’s most extreme late manner.
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. Some digital versions of Bodoni are said to 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. 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, and ITC Bodoni 12 (for 12 points) and ITC Bodoni 7 (for 7 points).
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