#103 Long & Short

103 Long & Short
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In a nutshell
The gist
Summing it up
The long & short of it

I’m sure scholars of the English language have written lengthy essays on the origin & evolution of the phrase “the long & short of it” but here, simply, is the long & short of it:

This expression, originally stated as “the short & long of it,” dates from about 1500; later “the long & short of it” was established by the end of the 1600s. It is also stated “the long & the short of it.”

Source: The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary

The long & short & condensed & italic

AmperArt #103, Long & Short, features typography set in just one type family, Bodoni, but with many styles. It is a beautiful & versatile typestyle, having many variations designed by several foundries over the years. This piece has purposely been set with fonts from four different foundries.* (See type terminology below.) 

Demonstrating just how versatile Bodoni is—how one type family can render so many personalities—Long & Short was set as follows, indicating style (followed by designer or foundry):

103 Long & Shortthe, of it set in Bodoni Condensed Italic (Berthold)

LONG set in Bodoni Poster Compressed (Adobe)

SHORT set in Bodoni Black (Bauer)

set in Bodoni Oldface Italic (Berthold)


Bodoni, typographer

1818 Manuale-Tipografico, Bodoni
The 1818 Manuale-Tipografico specimen manual of Bodoni’s press, published after his death.

Bodoni is the name given to the serif typefaces first designed by Giambattista Bodoni (1740–1813) in the late eighteenth century & frequently revived since. Bodoni’s typefaces are classified as Didone or modern. Bodoni had a long career & his designs changed & varied, ending with a typeface of a slightly condensed underlying structure with flat, unbracketed serifs, extreme contrast between thick & thin strokes, & an overall geometric construction.

When first released, Bodoni & other didone fonts were called classical designs because of their rational structure. Bodoni’s later designs are rightfully called “modern” but the earlier designs are now called “transitional.”

In the English-speaking world, “modern” serif designs like Bodoni are most commonly used in headings & display uses & in upmarket magazine printing, which is often done on high-gloss paper that retains & sets off the crisp detail of the fine strokes. In Europe, they are more often used in body text.

Bodoni, printer

Bodoni page decorations
Proofs of page decorations from the Bodoni printing house

Although to a modern audience Bodoni is best known as the name of a typeface, Bodoni was an expert printer who ran a prestigious printing office under the patronage of the Duke of Parma, & the design of his type was permitted by & showcased the quality of his company’s work in metal-casting, printing & of the paper made in Parma.

Writing of meeting him in the year 1786, James Edward Smith, English botanist and founder of the Linnean Society, said:

A very great curiosity in its way is the Parma printing office, carried on under the direction of Mr. Bodoni, who has brought that art to a degree of perfection scarcely known before him. Nothing could exceed his civility in showing us numbers of the beautiful productions of his press…as well as the operations of casting & finishing the letters…his paper is all made at Parma. The manner in which Mr. Bodoni gives his works their beautiful smoothness, so that no impression of the letters is perceptible on either side, is the only part of his business that he keeps secret.

Dazzle (not what you think)

The effective use of Bodoni in modern printing poses challenges common to all Didone designs. While it can look very elegant due to the regular, rational design & fine strokes, a known effect on readers is “dazzle,” where the thick verticals draw the reader’s attention & cause them to struggle to concentrate on the other, much thinner strokes that define which letter is which. For this reason, using the right optical size of font has been described as particularly essential to achieve professional results. 

[And for other reasons as well, fine typography should be entrusted to a professional designer. Yeah, that would be me. —Chaz]

Bodoni, busy

Bodoni has been used for a wide variety of material, ranging from 18th century Italian books to 1960s periodicals. In the 21st century, the late manner versions continue to be used in advertising, while the early manner versions are occasionally used for fine book printing.

  • Poster Bodoni is used in Mamma Mia! posters.
  • Bodoni is one of the two typesets that is used by Hilton Hotels for restaurant or bar menu content.
  • Sony’s Columbia Records (owned by CBS from 1938 to 1989) also utilizes Bodoni for their wordmark.
  • Nirvana’s logo is written with Bodoni (specifically Bodoni Poster-Compressed).
  • Bauer Bodoni Black is used for Carnegie Mellon University‘s wordmark.
  • Bauer Bodoni Roman is used for Brandeis University‘s wordmark.
  • Tom Clancy used Bodoni font for the artwork of all his affiliated works until his novel Dead or Alive.
  • A variation of Bodoni called “Postoni” is the primary headline font for The Washington Post newspaper.
  • Bodoni was the favorite typeset of Ted Hughes, UK Poet Laureate, 1984–1998.
  • Roman Bauer Bodoni is used in Slow Food‘s logotype.
  • Bodoni has been used in Manila Bulletin‘s headline text until the early 2000s.
  • Bodoni is used for the English translation of the logo for the Ghost in The Shell series.
  • Bodoni is used for the current logo of Time Warner.
  • Bodoni is used in THX‘s early trailers like Broadway & Cimarron.
  • The logo for the Canadian teen drama series Ready or Not is in Bodoni Poster-Compressed.
  • Book covers by Chaz DeSimone for Piano Pronto (see next headline).
Source: Wikipedia

Bodoni by Desimone for Piano Pronto

A few years ago I was commissioned by Jennifer Eklund, a charming client, to design her Piano Pronto logo & piano instruction books. Talented in her own right as a pianist & publisher, Jennifer also has a keen sense of design & visual style. She fell in love with the typeface Bodoni when I presented it as a complement to her logotype and as the main title font for her books. The front and back covers of her Primer are shown here. Two fonts are used for the cover, one being Bodoni Black. The back text is primarily Bodoni, showcasing bold, regular and italic.








If you have ever wanted to learn piano, Jennifer’s course is one you’ll really enjoy. It features“accelerated learning for all ages & all stages.” See all her piano instruction books and listen to some beautiful piano music at her website, pianopronto.com.



*Type terminology

“Foundry” of course is usually associated with metal works, & that’s exactly how type was produced for the first couple hundred years after moveable type was invented by Gutenberg. The term “foundry” is still used to designate a font publisher.

The term “font” used to mean something very specific, not just a typeface. It was the package of metal type that was one type family (Bodoni, Garamond, Helvetica, etc.), one weight (regular, light, book, bold, black), one style (roman—meaning upright, italic, small caps, etc.), & one size (6, 8, 10, 60, 72 point). That was a single font; i.e. Helvetica | bold | italic | extended | 36pt.

“Leading” is the space between lines of text. In the days of hand-set type & metal linecasting machines, strips of metal ranging from 1/4 point to 36 points (approx. 1/2 inch) or more were inserted between lines of type. (Anything thicker was usually spaced with wood blocks.) The metal strips were actually lead, & resulted in lead poisoning for many typesetters & printers.

“Cut & paste,” one of the most familiar terms associated with computers, used to mean literally cut the sheet of text, image or clipart with an X-acto blade & paste it in the layout with rubber cement or hot wax, to be photographed by the camera for offset platemaking. (& hold your breath to see if anything shifted around or fell off completely as the printing emerges from the press.)

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chaz sez ...

Check out the new “chaz sez” blog at DesimoneDesign.com, my commercial graphic design website. It’s mostly about design, typography, printing, publishing & marketing, but on occasion I’ll divert to a sideways topic that just can’t escape my ranting & raving.

Production notes for #103 Long & Short:
Original size: 20×30 inches

Program: Adobe Illustrator
Font family: Bodoni
Ampersand: Bodoni Oldface Italic
Reference text: Wikipedia (verbatim & edited)
Manuale-Tipografico specimen: Wikipedia (public domain)
Proofs of page decorations: TypTS 825.18.225, Houghton Library, Harvard University (public domain)
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