|May 5, 2014 at 4:42 AM #9021|
By the late 1860s, most type producers in the US and abroad organized the job fonts in their catalogs by styles instead of by sizes. During the next 30 years, the term series, long applied to book fonts available in a range of sizes, gradually extended to unification of display types with variations in width, weight, slant and ornamentation as well as size.
While the letterpress series concept persists today, it is not synonymous with the digital font family. There are fundamental, platform-dependent differences in font family organization and function.
For win fonts, weight literally means weight, as in “heaviness” or “lightness.” Weights are optional style names for members of a Windows font family:
My clueless understanding of the mac definition of font weight is that it applies to styles NOT strictly related to lightness or heaviness.*
Mac font families most closely resemble the letterpress series. They are a bit like “clans” headed by a patriarch and populated by all relatives with the same “surname”:
Windows Font Families and Menus
As explained by Adobe, win font families are style-linked [mapped] to function as units of two to (a maximum of) four fonts. As for text faces, family members must be identified as Fontname, Fontname Italic, Fontname Bold or Fontname Bold-Italic:
Series are built from any number of families:
Imagine how cool it is to select (once and only once) a base font entitled Eve-Rivoli from the font menu, assign it to a text block (once and only once) and never need to interrupt your “train of thought” by reaching for the mouse as you consider (and repeatedly reconsider) which words to set in which font using only intuitive keystrokes!
Formatting Shortcuts and Printability
Professional layout programs for both platforms support keyboard shortcuts* for formatting family members as regular, italic, bold and bold-italic; word-processors typically substitute mouse-click buttons.
How to Set Up Windows Font Families
Any two, three or four fonts may be style-linked as a family. The steps and screenshots below explain the process for a fictitious font, Tuscan, with three derivatives.²
Tuscan (fill font), the primary family member:
Voila! Now these fonts can be assigned (and repeatedly re-assigned) to selected text as effortlessly as with Eve-Rivoli (at least for Windows users*)!
¹McGrew, M. (1993): American Metal Types of the Twentieth Century (Second, Revised Edition), pages 271 and 347. Oak Knoll Press, New Castle, DE.
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