A new style

Story Type

September 18, 2005

We communicate with our readers using type -- lots of it. The challenge is to make the type speak through the use of distinctive shapes, styles, curves and sizes.We've met that goal by creating a new typeface we call Mencken.

HEADLINES

Readers should be able to recognize the importance of a story and its message through the kind of headline type that accompanies it. Headlines also play a key role in the organization of a news page. Larger, bolder typefaces appear at the top and decrease in size to the bottom of the news page.

Captions, graphics and info boxes

All Sun photographs are accompanied by a caption, usually directly below the photo, indentifying what's happening in the picture as well as the photographer. In the new design, the caption is larger and bolder. This same type, called Nobel and created by The Font Bureau, will be used in indexes, information boxes and graphics.

New type reads well at small sizes

The smallest type in the newspaper is known as the agate.

Readers see this type in stock tables, sports stats and roundups, TV listings and entertainment capsules, such as movies and concerts. These lists are long and require much space, so a special typeface is used that allows reduced size without compromising legibility.

The Sun recently switched the stock tables to a newer agate typeface called Retina.

A version of this type was originally created by typographer Tobias Frere-Jones of Hoefler & Frere-Jones for use in The Wall Street Journal.

With the redesign, all of the agate in the newspaper, including the crossword puzzle clues, is now presented in this easier-to read type.

TYPOGRAPHY

Jean Francois Porchez

Porchez Type Foundry

Every newspaper uses typography to distinguish itself from other publications. The goal is for readers to be able to identify your newspaper at a glance.

Most of the type you will see in the new redesign was created by Jean Francois Porchez, a typographer in France, for the exclusive use of The Sun. You won't see it anyplace else for years.

We commissioned Porchez, an award winning creator of type whose work is well-known in newspapers in France -- he also designed the lettering for the public transportation system -- to create a family of typefaces for use in our newspaper, from headlines to the text.

Porchez is the President of the Association Typographique Internationale and teaches type design courses in Europe and conducts workshops across the world.

Understanding the new font

The most important type for readers is the story text, known as body type. Our new design modernizes the typeface and also allows for an increase in the size of the body type. These factors combined result in improved readability.

What makes the new type easier to read?

The new body type has a larger "xheight," which means the text is taller and displays larger than the former body text. Meanwhile the ascenders, such as lower case L, remain the same.

It also looks darker. Why is that?

It is slightly bolder than the former font, and it has been optimized to the current printing conditions.

Won't the paper look boring with just one font?

No. We actually have several different fonts called a family that have similar characteristics, but look different. Some are bolder, some are lighter and some are curvier.We plan to use this variety to create interest and depth on our news pages.

Why call it Mencken?

To honor H.L. Mencken's contributions to The Sun. According to the London Daily Mail, H.L. Mencken even ventured beyond the typewriter and into the world of typography. Because he felt Americans did not recognize irony when they read it, he proposed creation of a special typeface to be called ironics, with the text slanting the opposite direction from italics type, to indicate that the writer was trying to be funny.

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