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Typographic Facts


Lucida Basic Latin Character Set ("BAS")

“BAS” (= “Basic Latin”) in a Lucida font name indicates that the character set is Unicode Basic Latin, containing the Latin alphabet of 26 capital and 26 lowercase letters, plus numerals, punctuation, symbols, and space, totaling 95 printing characters. Unicode Basic Latin is based on the ASCII standard (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) in use for 45 years. The Basic Latin character set does not include accented characters but it does support English and several other languages.* 

Lucida WGL Character Set

Lucida Grande fonts (and also Lucida Console and Lucida Retro fonts) contain the WGL pan-European character set (also called Windows Glyph List), which includes Unicode Basic Latin, Latin-1, Latin Extended-A, modern Greek, basic Cyrillic, to support most languages of Europe and the Americas, as well as some languages of Africa and Asia.*

Lucida Basic Font Weights

Lucida Basic fonts are provided in a suite of weights for fine-tuning to different printing media and digital displays. 

Traditional typeface weight designations are not coordinated from type family to family.  A “bold” in one typeface family might be similar in weight to a “demibold” in another family or to a “black” in another. A “Light” in one family might be similar in weight to a “Thin” in another family. 

To avoid confusion, Lucida Basic fonts use numerical designations based on the W3C-CSS weight numbering system combined with descriptive names derived from traditional weight names. The Lucida weights are carefully coordinated across different Lucida type families. For example, the "Normal" (400Norm) weight in Lucida Sans is very close in weight to to the "Normal" (400Norm) weight in Lucida Casual, Lucida Handwriting, or Lucida Calligraphy. Weight comparisons can be seen on the VIEW ALL page. 

W3C-CSS weight numbers are multiples of 100, but Lucida Basic weight suites offer finer gradations, particularly in the middle text range, where Lucida weights increase by steps of 25 units instead of 100. 

For example, CSS weight “400” is often taken to be a normal text weight, with “300” a light weight and “500” a semi-bold weight. In this middle text range, Lucida Basic suites offer several additional weights: Book weight = 350, Text weight = 375, Normal weight = 400, Thick weight = 425, ExtraThick weight = 450, and Dark weight = 500. 

Beyond this middle range, lighter weights decrease in 50 unit steps, and darker weights increase by steps of 50 units until weight 700 UltraBold, after which weights increase by 100 unit steps. 

The following table gives Lucida weight names and their abbreviations.

Name

Number

Abbreviation

UltraThin

100

100UtThin

ExtraThin

150

150XtThin

Thin

200

200Thin

ExtraLite

250

250XtLite

Lite

300

300Lite

Book

350

350Book

Text

375

375Text

Normal

400

400Norm

Thick

425

425Thick

ExtraThick

450

450XtThik

Dark

500

500Dark

ExtraDark

550

550XtDark

Bold

600

600Bold

ExtraBold

650

650XtBold

UltraBold

700

700UtBold

Black

800

800Black

ExtraBlack

900

900XtBlak

UltraBlack

999

999UtBlk

Visual and Semantic Functions of Typeface Weight

Typeface weights have multiple functions, and the broad spectrum of weights in Lucida Basic fonts are intended to serve a wide range of uses. 

1. Noticeable visual difference between one weight and another can emphasize or distinguish selected parts of text, such as titles, headings or subheadings. Weight can mark a definition, a name, or any other part of text that an author, editor, or typographer wishes to emphasize. 

2. Weights can adjust the impact of color. A light face in a red color usually looks pink, not red, but a bold weight in red looks red, not pink. A light weight in blue can look pastel, but in bold it can look true blue. Typographers can use bolder weights to give more area to text, to accentuate and strengthen color. Greater weight can also help colored type look the same weight as black type in a lighter weight. 

3. Different weights can tune the gray tone of text for a particular context, whether to match or to contrast with the average tonal range of photographs or images. 

4. To fine-tune text gradations to specific printing or display media. Some media and printing methods tend to darken type, while others tend to lighten type. Lucida offers gradations of weights to compensate for underinking, overinking, and a range of imaging conditions. When text is displayed in black on a high-resolution digital screen, the text can seem eroded by the bright white background, so a slightly bolder weight is often better. Also, when text is reversed out of a black background in print, it can look lighter because of the surrounding black areas, so in reverse, a slightly bolder weight can be better. 

5. Weight can evoke a visual mood, such as a light tone to suggest a light subject, or a dark tone to suggest a serious subject. For running text, slight differences in weight can make a text seem more pleasant to read. In book typography, darker weight types can seem oppressive after many pages of reading, whereas a slightly lighter weight may seem more congenial. 

6. For advertising, marketing, publicity, and other kinds of typography intended to attract, alert, shock, or persuade, light and bold weights differentiate a message from run of the mill text.

How much bolder should a "bold" be to be bold?

Most type designers adjust the weight of “bold” to be clearly bolder than the normal weight. This is both a visual and a numerical determination. For simplicity, type designers often measure weight by stem thickness, but another measure is total black area. Depending on the measurement method, a “bold” weight is roughly 40% to 50% bolder than its normal weight, but some bold weights are considerably bolder. Readers may detect weight variations of as little as 5%, and sometimes even less, but such slight differences are not psychologically or semantically effective. 

Some weight nomenclatures call a 50% weight increase “demibold”, and a 100% increase, “bold”, whereas others call a 50% increase “bold” and a 100% increase “black”. Lucida Basic font weight names are intended to resolve such ambiguities. A Lucida 600 Bold weight is 50% bolder than the 400 Normal weight (based on stem thickness). An 800 Black weight is 100% bolder (= twice as bold) as the 400 Normal weight. 

When a bold weight is used as emphasis for a normal weight, the bold must be easily and obviously bolder than the normal weight, so that a reader perceives the visual difference automatically, without thinking or wondering. In other words, bold should look like bold and not like a smudge. When a light weight is used to contrast with a normal weight, the difference also should be intentionally obvious, not like accidental underinking. How much difference is enough to be “obvious” is a question that the typographer or graphic designer must judge visually in context.

For Lucida Basic fonts, if the main text is composed in the 400 Normal weight, an obvious bolder weight is 600 Bold, while an obvious lighter weight is 300 Lite, or a bit lighter, 250 ExtraLite. If the main text is Book weight 350 Book, then an obvious bolder weight is Dark 500 (even though it isn’t called “Bold”) or a bit darker, 550 ExtraDark, while an obvious lighter weight is 250 ExtraLite. However, there is no hard and fast rule for what looks bold or light, and arithmetic is only an indicator - the eye is usually the better judge. It is often better to visually compare fonts before deciding which is best for a given circumstance. The Lucida Basic suites of weights offer several degrees of weight to enable easy comparisons.  

Lucida Narrow Fonts

Narrow fonts save space. They also have a different look - a tighter, faster rhythm. All Lucida font families from the Lucida Store have Narrow versions. For proportionally-spaced Lucida fonts, the Narrow versions are 87.5% (= 7/8) of the width of the normal-width faces. This means that 14% more characters can fit into the same column width or line length used for the normal width version.

For example. If 60 characters of a normal width Lucida font fit into a column width, the Narrow version will fit approximately 68 characters into the same column width. Alternatively, 60 characters of the narrow font will fit into a column 87.5% as wide as for the normal width font.  

LUCIDA GRANDE MONO, LUCIDA CONSOLE and LUCIDA RETRO also have Narrow versions. These are narrowed to 80% of the normal width fonts. This means that 25% more characters can fit into the same column width or line length used for the normal width version. This enables extreme economy for functional applications like spreadsheets, listings, directories, indexes, labeling and other data processing and business uses.

In legacy applications like terminal emulators that display 80 columns like old computer terminals, Lucida monospaced narrow fonts can fit 25% more text into the same horizontal space. If 80 columns of normal width Lucida Grande Mono take up 8 inches of horizontal space, the narrow version will take up only 6.4 inches. 

Lucida Monospaced Fonts

Lucida Grande Mono, Lucida Console, and Lucida Retro are monospaced fonts with all characters on the same width, like old-fashioned typewriters. This makes the fonts easy to use in a wide range of functional, computing, and business applications.

These three families of monospaced fonts, Lucida Grande Mono, Lucida Console and Lucida Retro, each have four styles: Regular, Italic, Bold, Bold Italic, in both normal and narrow width versions. All are offered in the WGL character set, providing a broad range of Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic letters, plus assorted symbols and graphical characters.

Lucida Grande Mono, Lucida Console and Lucida Retro are descended from the original Lucida Sans Typewriter fonts, designed in 1986 for digital printers and computer systems. Because these monospaced fonts were designed for functional usage, such as spreadsheets, computer programming, code and data listings, inventories, tables, directories, and other information display and print-out, they have clear differentiation between figure zero and letter Oh (‘O’), and between figure one and letter el (‘l’). 

All Lucida monospaced fonts have large x-heights, like standard Lucida fonts, which makes them look bigger and therefore more legible, especially on screens, or at small sizes, or in texts read from a greater distance than normal.

Compared to traditional typewriter fonts like Courier, Lucida monospaced fonts are larger in x-height, darker in weight and more economical in setting, thus offering space economy plus better legibility at small sizes. 

LUCIDA CONSOLE. A notable feature of Lucida Console is its short capitals, originally a technical adaptation to display restrictions in an early operating system. The short capitals turned out to be stylistically attractive on their own, so the font began to be used for its style as well as for its technical adaptability. Its name was even borrowed by an English “emo post-rock” band called “The Lucida Console”. The band seems to have broken up, but the Lucida Console font is still going strong after 20 years. Lucida Console Regular has been a terminal or “console” font bundled with Windows operating systems since 1993. B&H have now expanded its family to include italic, bold, and bold italic weights and styles, as well as narrow width versions.

LUCIDA RETRO. This monospaced family shares many characteristics with Lucida Console, but has normal height capitals. A notable feature of Lucida Retro is the upright cursive design of the roman and bold lower-case alphabets. Many of their lower-case letters have shapes like true italics but are upright in posture, like roman. This gives the Lucida Retro font a lively and distinctive look. Like Lucida Console, Lucida Retro provides good differentiation between figure zero and letter Oh (O), and figure one and letter el (l). It is large in x-height and economical in setting, and remains legible at small sizes, but is more stylish than some traditional monospaced fonts.

LUCIDA GRANDE MONO. This is a monospaced version of Lucida Grande, and closely resembles its proportional siblings. It is closest in design to the original Lucida Sans Typewriter font but has several subsequent modifications for better legibility of crucial letters and numbers, such as figure zero and letter Oh (O), and figure one and letter el (l). Because the weights, shapes, and vertical proportions of Lucida Grande Mono are the same as those of Lucida Grande, it provides an alternative when monospacing is important, thus extending the range of functionality available within the Lucida Grande family.

Monospaced Metrics

With their big x-heights and sturdy, open letterforms, Lucida Grande Mono, Lucida Console and Lucida Retro provide economical composition with good legibility at small sizes. When set at 10 point, they provide 12 characters per inch but look more like a 12 point font that provides only 10 characters per inch.

Lucida Grande Mono, Lucida Console and Lucida Retro also have Narrow versions, which are 80% of the normal width. providing extra economy of space while retaining the same large x-height and clear features of the regular designs. At 10 point, these Narrow version set 15 characters per inch, a 20% saving in space, useful in spread sheets, directories, listings, emulations, and other documents and applications where space is at a premium. 

Basic Latin Character set: Supported Languages and Orthographies

“BAS” (= “Basic Latin”) in a Lucida font name indicates that the character set is Unicode Basic Latin, containing the Latin alphabet of 26 capital and 26 lowercase letters, plus numerals, punctuation, symbols, and space, totaling 95 printing characters. Unicode Basic Latin is based on the ASCII standard (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) in use for 45 years. The Basic Latin character set does not include accented characters but it does support English and several other languages. Altogether, supported languages/orthographies include  Asu, Bemba, Bena, Chiga, Congo Swahili, Cornish, Gusii, Indonesian, Kabuverdianu, Kalenjin, Kinyarwanda, Latin, Luo, Luyia, Machame, Makhuwa-Meetto, Makonde, Malay, Morisyen, North Ndebele, Nyankole, Oromo, Rombo, Rundi, Rwa, Samburu, Sangu, Shambala, Shona, Soga, Somali, Swahili, Taita, Teso, Vunjo, Zulu. 

WGL Character Set: Supported Languages and Orthographies

Lucida Grande fonts (and also Lucida Console and Lucida Retro fonts) contain the 650 character WGL pan-European set (also called Windows Glyph List), which includes Unicode Basic Latin, Latin-1, Latin Extended-A, modern Greek, basic Cyrillic, to support most languages of Europe and the Americas, as well as some languages of Africa and Asia. The WGL character set also includes a range of graphical chart and box draw characters and various signs and symbols. 

Altogether, supported languages/orthographies include Afrikaans, Albanian, Asu, Basque, Belarusian, Bemba, Bena, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chiga, Congo Swahili, Cornish, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Embu, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Faroese, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Ganda, German, Greek, Gusii, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Jola-Fonyi, Kabuverdianu, Kalaallisut, Kalenjin, Kamba, Kikuyu, Kinyarwanda, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Luo, Luyia, Macedonian, Machame, Makhuwa-Meetto, Makonde, Malagasy, Malay, Maltese, Manx, Meru, Morisyen, North Ndebele, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Nyankole, Oromo, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Romansh, Rombo, Rundi, Russian, Rwa, Samburu, Sango, Sangu, Sena, Serbian, Shambala, Shona, Slovak, Slovenian, Soga, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Swiss German, Taita, Teso, Turkish, Vunjo, Welsh, Zulu. 

A Brief History of Weights and Styles of Lucida Grande

In 1992-1993, Bigelow & Holmes (B&H) developed non-Latin alphabetic characters and symbol sets for Lucida Sans, to demonstrate multiple scripts and language support in a single TrueType font with Unicode character encoding. This font, Lucida Sans Unicode, was included in Windows operating systems by Microsoft beginning in 1993. In 1997, B&H designed additional non-Latin and symbol extensions to Lucida Sans regular and Bold fonts for Apple. These fonts later became known as Lucida Grande because they were "grander" than fonts limited to Latin character sets. In 1999, B&H added Italic and Black weights and oblique styles to the Lucida Grande family. Apple released only the Lucida Grande Regular and Bold fonts of Lucida Grande with OS X, beginning in 2000. 

In 2013-2014, B&H designed Lucida Grande Light in roman, italic, and oblique styles, in the WGL CHARACTER SET, which supports extended Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic scripts and additional symbols and graphical characters. In 2014, B&H released through its on-line store, LUCIDA GRANDE in four weights: Light, Normal, Bold, and Black, and three styles: Roman, Italic, and Oblique, for a total of twelve basic fonts in the family. To these were added twelve corresponding NARROW versions. B&H also added four LUCIDA GRANDE MONO fonts in Regular, Bold, Italic, and Bold Italic styles, and four corresponding Narrow versions. By June 2014, the Lucida Grande family from Bigelow & Holmes included 32 fonts in the WGL character set. 

 Lucida Grande Matrix of Weights and StylesThe basic Lucida Grande family now includes twelve weights and styles:

Lucida Grande Light, Lucida Grande Light Italic, Lucida Grande Light Oblique.

Lucida Grande regular, Lucida Grande Italic, Lucida Grande Oblique.

Lucida Grande Bold, Lucida Grande Bold Italic, Lucida Grande Bold Oblique.

Lucida Grande Black, Lucida Grande Black Italic, Lucida Grande Black Oblique.

The Lucida Grande Narrow family also includes twelve weights and styles:

Lucida Grande Narrow Light, Lucida Grande Narrow Light Italic, Lucida Grande Narrow Light Oblique.

Lucida Grande Narrow regular, Lucida Grande Narrow Italic, Lucida Grande Narrow Oblique.

Lucida Grande Narrow Bold, Lucida Grande Narrow Bold Italic, Lucida Grande Narrow Bold Oblique.

Lucida Grande Narrow Black, Lucida Grande Narrow Black Italic, Lucida Grande Narrow Black Oblique.