W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > October 2015

Re: [css-fonts] font-weight-adjust

From: Florian Rivoal <florian@rivoal.net>
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2015 18:50:51 +0900
Cc: www-style list <www-style@w3.org>
Message-Id: <ACC35C9C-F766-452F-B567-65988EC85AA7@rivoal.net>
To: "Levantovsky, Vladimir" <Vladimir.Levantovsky@monotype.com>

> On 19 Oct 2015, at 18:08, Levantovsky, Vladimir <Vladimir.Levantovsky@monotype.com> wrote:
> I am not sure if having a universal "font-weight-adjustment" hammer is a good idea. 
> Even though some cars may come with a tool set that allows you to change wheels - none of them include tools that one would need to do an engine maintenance. The reason for it is that some things are simply meant to not be messed with by users and should be left to experienced professionals. 

Authors can also be experienced professionals (although they most certainly are not always).

> Font weight differences are not there by accident, font designers pay a great deal of attention to legibility and text color and contrast (significantly influenced by stem weights) are important aspects of consideration. Making adjustments to the weights of e.g. vertical stems of two different fonts may greatly affect legibility of one or both of them and I would argue that if two fonts are used that do not play well with each other it manifests bad typographic design choices that simply need to be revisited.

If this was about synthesizing font-weights, I would be in complete agreement, and hammering a font to look different would be unlikely to give good results (much like synthesizing italics is anything but good typography). But the font designer did offer a few carefully designed font weights, and there's nothing wrong with picking one of them. But since the numerical values merely indicate ordering between the weights, without an absolute scale, pairing two fonts remains tricky.

> In general, I think that adopting a design approach where font choices are compatible is better than using a hammer to make quick adjustments. in the vast majority of cases, if one's only  tool available is a hammer - every screw looks like a nail! I'd rather not give them hammer for this reason alone. And, in the world where webfonts give authors full control over their font choices, there is no excuse to bad design choices that require adjustments.

Yes, there is a great diversity of fonts these days that may make it easier for authors to pick a few fonts that match each other well at their default weight (even if that's arbitrary).


1) It unnecessarily reduces the choice. I don't see what's inherently wrong about pairing a font that is very dark at weight 400 with one that has a similar color at weight 700. Of course you can do poor pairings, but you can always to that anyway, regardless of weight.

2) If you consider internationalization, some languages (e.g. CJK) have a much more limited set of fonts to choose form, due to the huge numbers of characters these languages use, and therefore the comparatively hight cost of making fonts. There may not be a font that has the feel you want at weight 600, and if you've found one that does at weight 800, being unable to use it is frustrating.

 - Florian
Received on Monday, 19 October 2015 09:51:32 UTC

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