Weight

catpower's picture

Hi there!

Could anybody provide an average stroke size (in FontLab's points) for each weight in this list:
Hairline
Thin
Ultra-light
Extra-light
Light
Book
Normal / regular / roman / plain
Medium
Demi-bold / semi-bold
Bold
Extra-bold / extra
Heavy
Black
Extra-black
Ultra-black / ultra

Cheers!

Chris G's picture

This is a difficult question to answer, the actual values would depend on the units per em you were using and also on the style of the typeface itself. Once you have a value to start from (establishing the normal weight makes most sense) there are numerous ways of distributing the weights.

This thread

http://typophile.com/node/83010

has a good discussion about the theory of it, and I'm sure there are lots of others.

Nick Shinn's picture

AFAIK, nobody has yet made such calculations.
Why don't you do the work yourself?

catpower's picture

Nick, I don't have enough fonts for this.
I thought that many people here can provide some measurements for their font collections. And we will be able to get the average measurements.

PabloImpallari's picture

I once did it, out of curiosity. Measuring the stem of the lowercase i and averaging a large number of fonts, both sans and serif.

It resulted into this (translated to UPM 1000):
006 Hairline
023 Thin
040 Extra Light
057 Light
073 Book
093 Medium
117 Semibold
142 Bold
182 Black
227 Ultra

But don't take it to seriously. It's only and average and has no practical use.

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

Probably not very useful but still interesting stuff, Pablo. Thanks for sharing.

I am curious: Did you notice any significant differences when comparing sans stems vs. serif stems? I am wondering if sans stems could be a bit lighter on average.

Nick Shinn's picture

This question is futile, because absolute stem width is irrrelevant, due to:
- the arbitrary nature of glyph size relative to em square
- the different requirements of different type styles, in particular:
- the role of x-height, which also raises the issue of:
- difference in stem width between caps and lower case

Here are some common types, at the same nominal point size at left, and with x-heights equalized, at right.

The last two, Futura and Verdana, appear to have radically different stem widths at the same point size, but with x-heights equalized, very similar.

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

Indeed. Just wondering for the fun of it.

PabloImpallari's picture

@Cristobal
> Did you notice any significant differences when comparing sans stems vs. serif stems?
> I am wondering if sans stems could be a bit lighter on average.

Don't remember. But my "guess" is that serif stems will be a bit lighter, since the serifs in itself are adding mass to the glyphs.

In my Quattrocento Sans and Serf fonts, the serif stem is 66 and the sans stem is 70.

.00's picture

Frutiger Medium has a perfect 1:5 stroke width to height ratio, a do a lot of Medium weight designs. Not the worst thing in the world to emulate, but not necessary either.

Nick Shinn's picture

…a perfect 1:5 stroke width to height ratio…

A little larger in the digital font, 1:5.4, presumably to allow for ink gain.

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