Guide to Typestyles: Didone Typefaces
Didone typefaces (also referred to as Neoclassical and Modern) enjoyed great popularity from the late 18th through the 19th centuries. The term Didone is a melding of Didot and Bodoni, the two most characteristic typeface designs of this era. Didones are characterized by extreme weight contrast between thicks and thins, vertical stress, and serifs with little or no bracketing.
To help you navigate the abundance of typeface options in this classification (including numerous versions of Bodoni and Didot), we have showcased a sampling of seven well-designed typefaces we find both useful and versatile.
The Arepo™ typeface is a display design by Sumner Stone, who found his inspiration in Imperial Roman letterforms and the subsequent work of Giambattista Bodoni. The family consists of a roman, an italic with a very elegant swash, and a bold.
ITC Bodoni Seventy-Two
The ITC Bodoni™ Seventy-Two typeface is part of the ITC Bodoni typeface family. Based on Bodoni’s “Papale” font, ITC Bodoni Seventy-Two captures the engraved elegance of the 18th century master’s work without reducing the characters to oversimplified geometric shapes. This typeface consists of two weights plus companion italics, including elegant swash capitals for both italics.
The Linotype Didot™ typeface was drawn by Adrian Frutiger in 1991, and is based on the fonts cut by Firmin Didot between 1799 and 1811. Frutiger also studied the Didot types in a book printed by the Didots in 1818, La Henriade by Voltaire. This beautifully drawn family has three weights including old style figures, small caps for the roman weight, as well as a headline version and an ornament font.
The Bodoni Poster™ family pushes the stroke contrast characteristic of typefaces in this category to an extreme. Designed by Chauncey H. Griffith in 1929, Bodoni Poster resembles the fat-faces of the 19th century. In all weights – regular, italic, and compressed – the skinny counter shapes are combined with chunky main strokes, making this a powerful and dramatic face for advertising and signage.
The ITC Fenice™ family (pronounced fe-nee-chay) is the work of designer Aldo Novarese and was influenced by the traditional designs of Didot, Bodoni, and Ibarra. The result is a contemporary structural style with the fine serifs of a Bodoni. ITC Fenice consists of four weights with companion obliques.
Named for the German Renaissance astronomer, the Kepler™ family is a contemporary typestyle designed by Robert Slimbach in the classic tradition. It is elegant and refined, with a hint of old style proportion and calligraphic detailing that lends it warmth and energy. Kepler includes six weights plus italics, with small caps and old style figures for all weights and swash characters for the italics.
The Monotype Walbaum™ family is based on the types of Justus Erich Walbaum, a German letter cutter from the 1800s. Showing the influence of the Didone style typefaces being cut in France at the time by designers such as Firmin Didot, Walbaum has a lightness and delicacy that imparts an air of grace to text setting. It consists of two weights with italics, as well as both lining and old style figures.
- Editor’s Note: Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer and writer specializing in all aspects of typographic communication. She conducts Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. Read more about typography in her latest literary effort, Type Rules! The designer's guide to professional typography, 3rd edition, published by Wiley & Sons, Inc. This article was commissioned and approved by Monotype Imaging Inc.