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Albert Nekrasov
Albert Nekrasov

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Asked to advise on a redesign, Morison recommended that The Times change their text typeface from a spindly nineteenth-century face to a more robust, solid design, returning to traditions of printing from the eighteenth century and before. This matched a common trend in printing tastes of the period. Morison proposed an older Monotype typeface named Plantin as a basis for the design, and Times New Roman mostly matches Plantin's dimensions. The main change was that the contrast between strokes was enhanced to give a crisper image. The new design made its debut in The Times on 3 October 1932. After one year, the design was released for commercial sale. In Times New Roman's name, Roman is a reference to the regular or roman style (sometimes also called Antiqua), the first part of the Times New Roman family to be designed. Roman type has roots in Italian printing of the late 15th and early 16th centuries, but Times New Roman's design has no connection to Rome or to the Romans.




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The Times stayed with Times New Roman for 40 years, but new production techniques and the format change from broadsheet to tabloid in 2004 have caused it to switch typeface five times from 1972 to 2007. However, all the new fonts have been variants of the original New Roman typeface.


Times New Roman has a robust colour on the page and influences of European early modern and Baroque printing.[3][a] As a typeface designed for newspaper printing, Times New Roman has a high x-height, short descenders to allow tight linespacing and a relatively condensed appearance.[5][b] (Although Hutt,[6] and most other authors, describe Times New Roman as having a higher x-height than Plantin, Tracy reports based on published Monotype dimensions that in the original small metal-type sizes the difference was not great.[7])


The roman style of Plantin was loosely based on a metal type created in the late sixteenth century by the French artisan Robert Granjon and preserved in the collection of the Plantin-Moretus Museum of Antwerp.[8][9][10][11] This style is sometimes categorised as part of the "old-style" of serif fonts (from before the eighteenth century).[12][13][14][c] (The 'a' of Plantin was not based on Granjon's work: the Plantin-Moretus Museum's type had a substitute 'a' cut later.[16]) Indeed, the working title of Times New Roman was "Times Old Style".[15]


However, Times New Roman modifies the Granjon influence further than Plantin due to features such as its 'a' and 'e', with very large counters and apertures, its ball terminal detailing, a straight-sided 'M' and an increased level of contrast between thick and thin strokes, so it has often been compared to fonts from the late eighteenth century, the so-called 'transitional' genre, in particular the Baskerville typeface of the 1750s.[17][18] Historian and sometime Monotype executive Allan Haley commented that compared to Plantin "serifs had been sharpened...contrast was increased and character curves were refined," while Lawson described Times's higher-contrast crispness as having "a sparkle [Plantin] never achieved".[19][20]


Rather than creating a companion boldface with letterforms similar to the roman style, Times New Roman's bold has a different character, with a more condensed and more upright effect caused by making the horizontal parts of curves consistently the thinnest lines of each letter, and making the top serifs of letters like 'd' purely horizontal.[30] This effect is not found in sixteenth-century typefaces (which, in any case, did not have bold versions); it is most associated with the Didone, or "modern" type of the early nineteenth century (and with the more recent 'Ionic' styles of type influenced by it that were offered by Linotype, discussed below).[20][31][32][33][34] Some commentators have found Times' bold unsatisfactory and too condensed, such as Walter Tracy.[29]


During the nineteenth century, the standard roman types for general-purpose printing were "Modern" or Didone designs,[f] and these were standard in all newspaper printing.[36][37] Designs in the nineteenth-century style remain a common part of the aesthetic of newspaper printing; for example in 2017 digital typeface designer Tobias Frere-Jones wrote that he kept his Exchange family, designed for the Wall Street Journal, based on the nineteenth-century model as it "had to feel like the news."[38] According to Mosley and Williamson the modern-face used by The Times was Monotype's Series 7 or "Modern Extended", based on typefaces by Miller and Richard.[39][40]


By the 1920s, some in the publishing industry felt that the modern-face model was too spindly and high-contrast for optimal legibility at the small sizes and punishing printing techniques of newspaper printing.[41][g] In 1925, the Mergenthaler Linotype Company, Monotype's main competitor, launched a new newspaper typeface called Ionic, which became the first in a series known as the Legibility Group.[43][33] These kept to the nineteenth-century model but greatly reduced the contrast of the letterform.[44] The thinnest strokes of the letter were made thicker and strokes were kept as far apart as possible to maximise legibility. It proved extremely successful: Allen Hutt, Monotype's newspaper printing consultant in the late 1930s,[45] later noted that it "revolutionized newspaper text setting...within eighteen months it was adopted by 3,000 papers."[43] Although Times New Roman does not in any way resemble it, Walter Tracy, a prominent type designer who worked on a redesign of Times in the 1970s and wrote an analysis of its design in his book Letters of Credit (1986), commented that its arrival must at least have influenced the decision to consider a redesign.[46]


Morison's biographer Nicolas Barker has written that Morison's memos of the time wavered over a variety of options before it was ultimately concluded that Plantin formed the best basis for a condensed font that could nonetheless be made to fill out the full size of the letter space as far as possible.[48] (Morison ultimately conceded that Perpetua, which had been his pet project, was 'too basically circular' to be practical to condense in an attractive way.[h])


Walter Tracy and James Moran, who discussed the design's creation with Lardent in the 1960s, found that Lardent himself had little memory of exactly what material Morison gave him as a specimen to use to design the typeface, but he told Moran that he remembered working on the design from archive photographs of vintage type; he thought this was a book printed by Christophe Plantin, the sixteenth-century printer whose printing office the Plantin-Moretus Museum preserves and is named for.[49] Moran and Tracy suggested that this actually might have been the same specimen of type from the Plantin-Moretus Museum that Plantin had been based on.[50] (Although Plantin is based on a Granjon type in the collection of the Museum, that specific type was only acquired by Plantin's heirs after his death.[9]) The sharpened serifs somewhat recall Perpetua, although Morison's stated reason for them was to provide continuity with the previous Didone design and the crispness associated with the Times' printing; he also cited as a reason that sharper serifs looked better after stereotyping or printed on a rotary press.[51] Although Morison may not have literally drawn the design, his influence on its concept was sufficient that he felt he could call it "my one effort at designing a font" in a letter to Daniel Berkeley Updike, a prominent American printing historian with whom he corresponded frequently.[i] Morison's several accounts of his reasoning in designing the concept of Times New Roman were somewhat contradictory and historians of printing have suggested that in practice they were mostly composed to rationalise his pre-existing aesthetic preferences: after Morison's death Allen Hutt went so far as to describe his unsigned 1936 article on the topic[3] as "rather odd...it can only be regarded as a piece of Morisonian mystification".[52]


SM thought that Dreyfus might in time be able to design a mathematical font but he would first have to get out of his system a lot of personal ideas and searching for effects. He, Morison, had to do all this before he could design the Times font. Will Carter came in to consult M about a new type for the Radio Times, on which he had been invited to experiment. M said that the answer was really Times and that if he worked out the problem from the bottom that was the sort of answer he would get...Will has been experimenting with Plantin, but it doesn't come out well when printed from plates on rotaries, perhaps a face based on Plantin would do the trick. M said that was just how he got to Times.[51]


Linotype licensed its version to Xerox and then Adobe and Apple, guaranteeing its importance in digital printing by making it one of the core fonts of the PostScript page description language.[100][101] Microsoft's version of Times New Roman is licensed from Monotype, hence the original name. For compatibility, Monotype had to subtly redraw their design to match the widths from the Adobe/Linotype version.[102] Versions of Times New Roman from Monotype (discussed below) exist which vary from the PostScript metrics. Linotype applied for registration of the trademark name Times Roman and received registration status in 1945.[98]


When the system font Times New Roman was expanded to support Arabic script, it was complemented with the Arabic character set from Simplified Arabic, a typeface that Compugraphic Corporation had plagiarized from Linotype and leased to Microsoft.[110] Times New Roman with support for Arabic was first published in the Arabic version of Windows 3.1x.[110]


Also known as Times New Roman World, this is originally based on the version of Times New Roman bundled with Windows Vista.[111] It includes fonts in WGL character sets, Hebrew and Arabic characters. Similar to Helvetica World, Arabic in italic fonts are in roman positions.[clarification needed] 041b061a72


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