LibreOffice: Fonts, page color, and the magic number

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Working with Fonts

Fonts are set on the Font tab of a paragraph or character style (Figure 1). On the Font tab, each font has three basic characteristics: its family (known outside LibreOffice as the typeface), style , and size . Fonts can be further modified by features on the Font Effect tab, where formatting features such as the font color are set.

Figure 1: The Font tab of character and paragraph styles has the tools for working with fonts.

Fonts can be classified in several ways, but the most common are by design characteristics. The main categories are:

  • Serif: Fonts whose lines end with a foot or a hook (Figure 2). A subcategory of serifs is called slab serif, which has very large serifs, making it suitable for posters and online.
Figure 2: Serif fonts have hooks at the end of letter strokes.
  • Sans Serif: Literally, fonts whose lines lack the foot or hook that characterizes serifs (Figure 3). Sans serif fonts often read well online. When the New Typography movement of the early twentieth century favored sans serif fonts as part of their general simplification of design, the fonts gained a reputation for modernity that they still keep today [3]. They are informally called "Sans."
Figure 3: Modern-looking sans serif fonts lack the hooks at the end of letter strokes that characterize serif fonts.
  • Monospaced: Fonts in which every letter occupies exactly the same amount of space (Figure 4). By contrast, in most fonts, letters take up different amounts of space, with i taking up the least, and m the most. Monospaced fonts can be either serif or sans serif, but the sans serif monospaced are usually better designed. Because they were once common on typewriters, monospaced fonts are unpopular today, except for specific uses such as writing code or movie scripts.
Figure 4: In a monospaced font, each letter is the same width.

Other categories include Decorative, Script, and Dingbats, but none are common in text-heavy documents.

Font Styles

Different members of a font family are often called weights. This term refers to the thickness of the lines that make up the individual letters. In character and paragraph styles, LibreOffice refers to a weight as a font style .

Using the term "font styles" makes sense, because weights are not always defined by thickness of line. An italic weight, for example, is defined by the text being both angled to the right and rounded. The most common font styles include the following:

  • Roman: This is the font style most often used for body text (Figure 5). It may also called Regular, Book, or Medium, although these are not always exact synonyms in individual font families.
Figure 5: Roman font styles are the standard fonts.
  • Italic: A cursive font, slanted to the right, used mainly for emphasis and book titles (Figure 6). In modern fonts, the italic is sometimes replaced by an Oblique style, which is similar to Roman, only inclined to the right.
Figure 6: Italic fonts are rounded and angled to the right. Oblique fonts are simply angled.
  • Bold: A version of the font with heavier lines on each character (Figure 7). Used for strong emphasis and headings, this weight sometimes replaces Italics online. Variants may have names like Black, Semi-Bold, Demi-bold, Extra, or Heavy, sometimes each with a different thickness of line. The thicker variations are usually intended for use at large font sizes in media such as posters.
Figure 7: Bold font styles have heavy letter strokes.

Another way to classify fonts has become popular thanks to the use of CSS style sheets on web page (Table 1).

Table 1

CSS Font Classifications

Numeric Descriptive
100 Extra Light
200 Light
300 Book
400 Regular, Roman
500 Medium
600 Semi-Bold/Demi-bold
700 Bold
800 Heavy, Extra, Black
900 Ultra, Extra

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