My study of modern-face types takes as its subject a style of typeface design that first emerged in the late eighteenth century from printers like Bodoni and the Didot family. Modern-face types are recognizable by their high contrast between thick and thin lines with abrupt transitions between them; they have upright and formal-looking letters. CBS News and Vogue magazine are two well-known logos using modern-face letterforms.

 

The appearance of modern-face letters was revolutionary. The modern-face letter dominated roman-type printing for a century, and though it ceded ground to a revival of the so-called old-style letters beginning in the later nineteenth century, it remains an often-used design in typography even today.

 

From their inception, modern-face types conveyed both authority and novelty, values that help account for the breadth and duration of their use. Understanding how the designs communicate authority and novelty requires close historical investigation, not only into the circumstances of their creation, but also into the contexts of their use since then.

© 2017 Craig Eliason

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