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A General Guide to Using Boldface

boldface typography

Using boldface is one of the common ways to use when you want to emphasize a word or a phrase, aside from italics and oblique. However, these basic typography tools often are used in an incorrect manner. Today, we will share a general guide on how to use boldface, which is also called as weight contrast, when you wish to emphasize certain word or phrase as part of your design. Read on.

Bold typefaces can be referred as many names, such as demi bold (or just “demi”), extra bold, black and ultra, and bold. Just like what those names show, they have heavier incremental degrees of stroke weights compared to the basic roman, as well as the medium weight of certain typeface.

When you are using boldface, you are creating emphasis as you contrast the lighter and heavier weights using the same typeface. The common uses of weight contrast are in subheadings, captions, and stand-alone phrases or words. Always use boldface in a text sparingly, and only when a strong emphasis is necessary, since it can create a harsh visual disruption. Our tip when you set boldface text using a typeface family with gradual weight changes is to try jumping at least 2 weights so you can make a meaningful contrast. The too-small weight contrast will be ineffective, and people may think it’s a mistake.

Using the boldface can also easily build priority. Remember that typographic hierarchy refers to creating various levels of importance through text arrangement and typeface choice. When used sparingly, different typeface proportions and weights can lead the reader through the long, complicated documents.

In a document, boldface is often used for headings, subheadings, and page numbers. Bold type is also often used in short messages for the reader found at the end of a column to explain where the text continues—also known as “jump lines”. When used sparingly, weight contrast on a page can also add a touch of diversity graphically to monotone, plain pages of text copy.

Be careful when using boldface, though, as it has a more commanding impression than a point size change or italics. Bold type does stand out, and because of that, using too much on one single page can end up looking distracting and disrupting the reading process. Hence, italics are the one often being used in running text with more than merely a couple of words to get emphasized. If you are using the typeface families with relatively subtle changes of gradations from one weight to another, a jump of two weights is advisable so you can make an obvious contrast.

If you are using a Mac PC, use the boldface from the font menu rather than from the style bar. It’s because some manufacturers link bold types to their roman counterparts through the style bar function, but there are others who don’t. Even the ones linked to the lighter-weight companions have default bold type which weight you don’t want to use. However, with Windows PC, bold typefaces are only accessible through the style menu or bar.


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