15 December 2009

Times New Roman

One of my least favorite typefaces for books is perhaps one of the most ubiquitous: Time New Roman. In fairness, there’s nothing particularly wrong with the design of this typeface, if you’re setting newspaper columns in 8 point type that is. It was used to good effect in a a number of books through the twentieth century, but many of the optional sorts that made it more friendly to book setting in its hot metal days are excluded from the digital versions that come with your computer: old-style figures, ligatures and alternate characters with longer descenders for g j p q y in the roman, as well as f in the italic.

A commercial typesetting job I’m working on this week employs Times New Roman, so I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit and tuning up my copies of the font. I pulled out a letterpress-printed sample book produced by the famous British printing house Mackay’s of Chatham and put both regular and extended characters under the microscope for closer examination. Both samples above show 10 point Times New Roman, one with a regular p and one with an extended descender p.

A number of years ago I moved over to a flatscreen monitor. Well, my monitor died this week, so Gary climbed up into the loft and hauled down an old monitor to get me by while we source (and save for) a new flatscreen. What a pig! How did we ever manage to give up so much desk space before? This retro look is not sitting well with me. Notice the Times New Roman samples under the microscope.

In between things, Gary and I continue to renovate the new letterpress area. We took Jack’s Albion Press for a walk today and settled it in a new location. Tomorrow there’s some hammer drilling to do and then we can put up the drywall and hang the door. And there's another vandercook to move yet, and a C&P which will need to be broken down to get through the door from the back shop.

Andrew Steeves ¶ Printer & Publisher

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