Captions Part 2
by Ilene Strizver
Usually part of a complete typeface family, caption fonts are special designs that have been reworked to hold up better at smaller sizes, most often in the 6-9 point range. Adjustments can include:
- reduced weight contrast (resulting in sturdier thin strokes and serifs)
- larger x-heights
- more-open counters
- more-open letter spacing
Some foundries design (or name) caption fonts a bit differently. For example, the Fairfield family’s caption fonts are slightly angled, a cross between the Roman design and its italic counterpart (see illustration). ITC Bodoni Six is a size-specific design intended for captions and other small text, but it’s identified by a point size descriptor rather than the word caption in the name (see illustration). The family also includes Bodoni Twelve and Bodoni Seventy-Two. Other typeface families use the heading “optical sizes” to describe variations suited for use at specific point sizes.
Whichever font you decide to you use, the principles of good design remain the same – contrast, harmony and legibility are the keys to setting effective captions.
- 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.