November 19, 2004

The News Types

Study uncovers 10 most popular fonts
By Joanne Cummings

A study conducted by font design firm Ascender Corp. found that as more newspapers gravitate toward blending their print and online initiatives, many look increasingly toward custom font styles.

The study, which examined both display and text fonts on newspaper front pages across the U.S., found that with more than 50,000 fonts to choose from, most newspapers relied on a much smaller subset of fonts to convey their message and designs.

�Newspapers have new challenges designing and publishing both print and electronic versions,” said Bill Davis, the study’s author. “Each medium has different font formats and technologies to create and render fonts with optimal legibility. The jury is still out on the best approach to create electronic editions of newspapers in a manner that preserves the look and feel of the print edition, particularly regarding maintaining brand identity.”

The study found that the 10 most popular typeface families used by today�s newspapers are: Poynter, Franklin Gothic, Helvetica, Utopia, Times, Nimrod, Century Old Style, Interstate, Bureau Grotesque and Miller. This makes sense, Davis said, since many of these typefaces were designed specifically for newspapers in that the letterforms include features for legibility that address the challenges of reproduction on newsprint.

Additionally, the study found that the vast majority of newspapers studied rely on custom fonts and type faces. Ascend (sic) said this is because the use of custom fonts allows publications to strengthen their brand and give a distinct, exclusive quality to their publication.

For example, the study found that each of the top seven daily newspapers use typefaces specifically designed or commissioned on their behalf. Further, 35 of the top 100 daily newspapers use a custom typeface or modified font in addition to retail, off-the-shelf fonts.

For a free copy of the study, e-mail Ascender at

Originally published at Graphics iq.
See also The Poynter Fonts: The Readability Series and STrajan

Posted by Karen at November 19, 2004 02:40 PM in typography
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