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Re: Typesetting rules in physics

Does anyone have any idea how the convention developed that in
mathematics changing R from normal weight to bold means also changing
it from italic to upright? I hypothesize that bold italic fonts were
simply less commonly available in compositors type cases in the era of
lead typesetting, and the lack was resolved by the obvious
substitution of bold upright.

To put it another way: Suppose you started using bold italic instead
of bold upright for Latin letters in math. Would it look bizarre and
wrong? Would there be readability problems? There are definitely
problems distinguishing glyphs of cmmi10 and cmmib10 interspersed in
normal context, but I think that's because cmmib10 is not heavy
enough; it does not necessarily follow that bold italic versus italic
are always too similar to be clearly distinguishable. On the other
hand, could it be perhaps that the weight increase required to make
a math bold italic sufficiently distinguishable from a medium italic
(when they are used as isolated letters scattered in math
formulas---and maybe in subscripts) is inordinately large compared to
the weight increase required for text bold italic?

Michael Downes