February 02, 2004
New York Times Revamp
21 October 2003: via New York Times
Starting today, the front page and main news sections of The New York Times are receiving a gentle typographical face-lift.
In place of a miscellany of headline typefaces that have accumulated in its columns over the last century, the newspaper is settling on a single family, Cheltenham, in roman and italic versions and various light and bold weights. A narrow variation will be used for The Times’s signature one-column headline, which often appears at the top right of Page A1 on the main article of the day. (Before-and-after examples are shown on this page.)
Tom Bodkin, assistant managing editor and design director of The Times, oversaw the changes. “Our goals were to enhance legibility and bring a more orderly look to the pages while preserving the ability to convey a clear hierarchy of news values,” he said. “We wanted to appear traditional but less old-fashioned. And we felt a need for a more robust, less spindly headline on what is often the biggest story of the day.”
The new styles were chosen from numerous options commissioned by Joseph Lelyveld, executive editor, before his retirement in 2001. Final approval was given by the current executive editor, Bill Keller. Only a single headline typeface, Cheltenham Bold Italic, survives from the previous repertory. (It is visible today in the Page A1 headline “Sniper Suspect/Is Own Lawyer/As Trial Opens.”) All of the other faces were created for The Times � and named for it � by the noted type designer Matthew Carter, who based them on traditional letterforms.
Cheltenham type originated in 1896 designs by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue and Ingalls Kimball for the Cheltenham Press, a private publisher in New York City.
In the early 1900’s the face was refined by Morris Fuller Benton of the American Type Founders Company. It is characterized by lines that are almost uniform in thickness and by serifs, or finishing strokes, that are small and blunt. One of the first uses of Cheltenham in The Times occurred in 1906, in front-page headlines about the great San Francisco earthquake.
Before today’s change, at least six headline typefaces commonly appeared on the front page. That kind of variety was customary for newspapers in the early 20th century, possibly because metal type was too costly and scarce for printers to stock full ranges of size within a family.
Victorian-era headlines typically comprised many layers, or “decks,” in differing fonts. The Times’s one-column signature headline � the “A” head, in newsroom jargon � is an abbreviated holdover of that style, which has otherwise disappeared from the paper.
The compressed type in the top part of the “A” head, before today, was Latin Extra Condensed, a face that originated with many foundries in the 1880’s and became a front-page staple at The Times around 1907. For the sake of tradition, it will remain in The Times’s design vocabulary in the form of subject labels in a few sections, including sports.
Two other principal headline typefaces in the news pages are being replaced:
�Century Bold Italic, used for banner headlines on major news at the top of Page A1, will be replaced by Times Cheltenham Extrabold Italic.
�Bookman, a lighter-weight family, will be replaced by Times Cheltenham Book. Bookman remains the headline type for The Times’s feature sections except the magazine, but the Cheltenham will replace it in the coming months.
The Times’s text typeface, for news and editorials, remains Imperial, designed in the 1950’s by Edwin W. Shaar and adopted by the newspaper in 1967.
All of The Times’s faces, except the new ones, were originally designed for metal type, whether composed by hand, one letter at a time, or on keyboard-operated machines that cast lines of molten metal.
In the middle 1970’s, when the newspaper converted to computer typesetting, digital versions were created by scanning proofs of the traditional designs.Posted by Karen at February 2, 2004 11:23 AM in typography