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The default font in Pages is Helvetica Neue 11 pt.

macOS Ventura 13.2.1, Pages 12.2.1

Does anybody know why applying italic or bold changes appearance of its line spacing? (This doesn't happen if you use, for example, regular Helvetica.)

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2 Answers 2

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The trouble with Apple's Helvetica Neue is it was designed to be an interface font, not a print font. It is also proprietary to Apple & doesn't exist on Windows, so causes cross-compatibility issues. Windows will usually replace it with Arial, which is a metrically-compatible clone.

It was probably very useful to set Bold to have a slightly larger leading than Regular, because it would mean less manual tweaking of header to paragraph spacings.

There are many Helvetica Neue variants that do not suffer from this issue, also designed to be cross-platform compatible. If you really want to use it, maybe find one of those - from such as Linotype [the original] or Monotype [current owners]. There are also free variants available.
Helvetica, Neue & its variants is a huge font family, with many variations & offshoots - see Wikipedia for some more background.

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  • Thanks, I will probably accept your answer later. I still don't understand why Apple decided to make it a default (yeah, default!) font in Pages (in Pages!). Don't they aware of this issue that leads to a really not-Apple user experience? Don't they have money to buy another Helvetica Neue for macOS?
    – jsx97
    Mar 22, 2023 at 18:36
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    Apple is very opinionated @jsx97 - but luckily you can adapt the templates to get the treatment you like with a little work. The hardest thing to do sometimes is look at what they decided to do and understand you're not the target market for a feature / decision / tradeoff. It's rare they missed a case - so you know they considered it and decided against the choice you feel would be better. It's almost always about time and not money, too. They invest a lot of both, make mock ups, test them then make a decision and move on.
    – bmike
    Mar 22, 2023 at 19:04
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If you set the line spacing to "Exactly" some value in points, then the problem will go away.

enter image description here

How to mix fonts in a way that doesn't change line spacing?

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  • I know, but this doesn't answer the question. The question is about why Helvetica Neue behaves so strangely.
    – jsx97
    Mar 24, 2023 at 21:36
  • @jsx97 I suspect that the Ascender values are incorrect. You'll never find out why, unless someone from Apple publicly comments about their internal processes, which as a rule they don't.
    – benwiggy
    Mar 25, 2023 at 9:26

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