The Typehead Chronicles: Bodoni
      Of Thomas Christensen, ABCedminded Typesetter  

homeward bound


Bauer Bodoni

Bauer Bodoni

Identifying Characteristics

  • easily recognizable Romantic typeface
  • vertical stress
  • slight serif bracketing
  • cupped top serifs on b,h,l, not parallel to baseline in some versions
  • top & bottom serifs on C
  • vertical tail of Q
  • small upper bowl of g
  • usually no middle serif on w
  • large ball terminal of c


Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813), late 18th-early 19th century, Italy.

Bodoni designed several typefaces, and there are many modern versions of them. Maybe later on I will get into all the different versions. Generally, however, their similarities are more significant than their differences.

Bodoni can be seen as the outcome of a movement initiated by by Baskerville in England and extended by the Didot family in France.

Bodoni was meticulous in the design and print quality of his publications, produced under the patronage of the Duke of Parma. But he seems to have been relatively indifferent to the text, as his beautiful editions are marred by numerous typos.

Character and Use

  • Looks best well leaded
  • Looks best on white, glossy paper
  • Watch out for shimmer (an optical effect of the vertical strokes, correctable by spacing)

Say What?

"The father of modern type"

— Nicholas Fabian

"The sweltering hideousness of the Bodoni letter, the most illegible type that was ever cut, with its preposterous thicks and thins, has been mostly relegated to works that do not profess anything but the baldest utilitarianism (though why even utilitarianism should use illegible types, I fail to see)."

— William Morris







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