Times New Roman

Times New Roman is a serif typeface. It was commissioned by the British newspaper The Times in 1931 and conceived by Stanley Morison, the artistic adviser to the British branch of the printing equipment company Monotype, in collaboration with Victor Lardent, a lettering artist in The Times's advertising department. It has become one of the most popular typefaces of all time and is installed on most desktop computers.

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.

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]

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 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] Other changes from Plantin include a straight-sided 'M' and 'W' with three upper terminals not Plantin's four, both choices that move away from the old-style model.[21]

Times compared with its influences in italic. The italic was made simpler than Plantin's, losing flourishes on the 'w' and 'v', but less radically than that of Perpetua.

Morison described the companion italic as also being influenced by the typefaces created by the Didot family in the late 18th and early 19th centuries: a "rationalistic italic that owed nothing to the tradition of the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. It has, indeed, more in common with the eighteenth century."[22][23][24] Morison had several years earlier attracted attention for promoting the radical idea that italics in book printing were too disruptive to the flow of text, and should be phased out.[25][26] He rapidly came to concede that the idea was impractical, and later wryly commented to historian Harry Carter that Times' italic "owes more to Didot than dogma."[10] Morison wrote in a personal letter of Times New Roman's mixed heritage that it "has the merit of not looking as if it had been designed by somebody in particular."[27][28][d]

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. 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][32][33][34][35] Some commentators have found Times' bold unsatisfactory and too condensed, such as Walter Tracy.[30]

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.[37][38] 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."[39] 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.[40][41]

Times compared to a modern-face and the wide, monoline Excelsior, part of Linotype's Legibility Group.

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.[42][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.[44][34] These kept to the nineteenth-century model but greatly reduced the contrast of the letterform.[45] 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,[46] later noted that it "revolutionized newspaper text setting...within eighteen months it was adopted by 3,000 papers."[44] 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.[47]

The development of Times New Roman was relatively involved due to the lack of a specific pre-existing model – or perhaps a surfeit of possible choices. Morison wrote in a memo that he hoped for a design that would have relatively sharp serifs, matching the general design of the Times' previous font, but on a darker and more traditional basic structure. Bulked-up versions of Monotype's pre-existing but rather dainty Baskerville and Perpetua typefaces were considered for a basis, and the Legibility Group designs were also examined. (Perpetua, which Monotype had recently commissioned from sculptor Eric Gill at Morison's urging, is considered a 'transitional' design in aesthetic, although it does not revive any specific model.) Walter Tracy, who knew Lardent, suggested in the 1980s that "Morison did not begin with a clear vision of the ultimate type, but felt his way along."[48]

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.[49] (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.[50] 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.[51] (Although based on a type in the collection of the Museum, the typeface Plantin is actually based specifically on a Granjon font for which matrices (moulds) only arrived in the collection after Plantin's 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.[52] 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".[53]

Lardent's original drawings are according to Rhatigan lost, but photographs exist of his drawings. Rhatigan comments that Lardent's originals show "the spirit of the final type, but not the details."[54] The design was adapted from Lardent's large drawings by the Monotype drawing office team in Salfords, Surrey, which worked out spacing and simplified some fine details.[48][55][56][57][58] Further changes were made after manufacturing began (the latter a difficult practice, since new punches and matrices had to be machined after each design change).[48]

Morison continued to develop a close connection with the Times that would last throughout his life. Morison edited the History of the Times from 1935 to 1952, and in the post-war period, at a time when Monotype effectively stopped developing new typefaces due to pressures of austerity, took a post as editor of the Times Literary Supplement which he held from 1945 to 1948.[59] Times New Roman remained Morison's only type design; he designed a type to be issued by the Bauer Type Foundry of Frankfurt but the project was abandoned due to the war. Morison told his friend Ellic Howe that the test type sent to him just before the war was sent to the government to be "analysed in order that we should know whether the Hun is hard up for lead or antimony or tin."[52] Brooke Crutchley, Printer to Cambridge University,[60] recorded in his diary a more informal discussion of the design's origins from a conversation in the late 1940s:

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.[52]

A large number of variants of Times were cut during the metal type period, in particular families of titling capitals for headlines.[61] Walter Tracy in Letters of Credit, Allen Hutt and others have discussed these extensively in their works on the family.[62][63][64]

Monotype also created some caps-only 'titling' designs to match Times New Roman itself, which was intended for body text. These are not sold by Monotype in digital format, although Linotype's Times Eighteen in the same style (see below) is.[66]

An elegant titling caps design, quite different from Times New Roman with a Caslon-style A (with a serif at top left of the letter, suggesting a stroke written with a quill) and old-style C and W; Tracy suggests Monotype's previous Poliphilus design as an influence.[67] Named after Hever Castle, the home of the Times' owner Lord Astor and designed early on, it was used by the Times for headings in the lighter sections such as society pages, arts and fashion.[63][68] It has not been digitised.

A variant intended for book printing, avoiding the slight condensation of the original Times New Roman.[69] Although it was popular in the metal type period for book printing, it was apparently never digitised. Monotype also created a version, series 627, with long descenders more appropriate to classic book typography.[70] Optional text figures were also available.[71]

Monotype also produced Series 727, in which the heavier strokes of upper-case letters were made slightly thinner.[72] This was done to produce a lighter effect in which capital letters do not stand out so much, and was particularly intended for German use, since in the German language capitals are far more common since they appear at the start of each noun.[72] Series 827 modified some letters (notably the R) to correspond to their appearance in other typefaces popular in French printing. This production of what are now called stylistic alternates to suit national tastes was common at the time, and many alternates were also offered for Gill Sans for use in Europe.[72]

A modified 434 point size of Times Roman was produced by Monotype for use in printing matter requiring a very small size of type. Listed as Times Newspaper Smalls, available as either Series 333 or 335, it was also referred to by the name Claritas.[22]

This is a variant designed for printing mathematical formulae, using the 4‑line system for mathematics developed by Monotype in 1957.[73][74] This modified version of Times Roman was designed for use as part of Monotype's 4-line Mathematics system. The major changes to the Times Roman typeface itself were a reduction in the slope of italic characters to 12 degrees from 16 degrees, so as to reduce the need for kerning, and a change in the form of italic v and w so that italic v could be more easily distinguished from a Greek nu.[73]

The 4-line system involved casting characters for 10-point Times Roman on 6-point bodies. The top of the character would overhang the slug, forming a kern which was less fragile than the normal kerns of foundry type, as it was on a slab of cast metal. This technique had been in previous use on Monotype machines, usually involving double-height matrices, to allow the automatic setting of "advertising figures" (numbers that occupy two or more lines, usually to clearly indicate a price in an advertisement set in small type). This meant that the same matrix could be used for both superscript and subscript numbers. More importantly, it allowed a variable or other item to have both a superscript and a subscript at the same time, one above the other, without inordinate difficulty.[73]

Previously, while the Monotype system, due to its flexibility, was widely used for setting mathematical formulas, Monotype's Modern Series 7 was usually used for this purpose.[40][75] Because of the popularity of Times Roman at the time, Monotype chose to design a variant of Times Roman suited to mathematical composition, and recut many additional characters needed for mathematics, including special symbols as well as Greek and Fraktur alphabets, to accompany the system instead of designing it around the typeface that was being used, for which characters were already available.[73] Matrices for some 700 characters were available as part of Times Roman Series 569 when it was released in 1958, with new characters constantly being added for over a decade afterwards (thus, in 1971, 8,000 characters were included, and new ones were being added at a rate of about 5 per week).[73]

Times New Roman's popularity rapidly expanded beyond its original niche, becoming popular in book printing and general publishing. Monotype promoted the typeface in their trade magazine, The Monotype Recorder, and took advantage of this popularity by cutting a widened version, Series 427, for book publishing, although many books ultimately used the original version.[77] (Because the cover of the Monotype Recorder compared the new "Times New Roman" with a sample of the previous type labelled as "Times Old Roman", some writers have assumed that the Times' previous typeface was actually called this, which it was not.[78][41])

An early user of Times New Roman outside its origin was by Daniel Berkeley Updike, an influential historian of printing with whom Morison carried an extensive correspondence. Impressed by the design, he used it to set his book Some Aspects of Printing, Old and New.[79][80][81] It then was chosen by the Crowell-Collier magazines Woman's Home Companion and then its sister publications such as Collier's.[82][83][84] A brochure was published to mark the change along with a letter from Morison hoping that the redesign would be a success.[76] Ultimately it became Monotype's best-selling metal type of all time.[85][86]

Walter Tracy, who worked on a redesign, however noted that the design's compression and fine detail extending to the edge of the matrices was not ideal in the aggressive conditions of most newspaper printing, in which the Times was unusual for its particularly high standard of printing suiting its luxury market. Users found that in the hot metal period it was common for the molten metal to rapidly eat through the matrices as type was being cast, and so it did not become popular among other newspapers: "Times Roman achieved its popularity chiefly in general printing, not in newspaper work."[30] He described it as particularly used in "book work, especially non-fiction" such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica.[30] Hutt also commented that Times New Roman's relative condensation was less useful than might be expected for newspaper printing, since in a normal newspaper column frequent paragraph breaks tend to provide area that can absorb the space of wider letters without increasing the number of lines used–but The Times, whose house style in the 1930s was to minimise the number of paragraph breaks, was an exception to this.[53][87]

A number of early reviews of Times New Roman were published in Morison's lifetime that discussed aspects of its design.[32] Most were appreciative (Morison was an influential figure in publishing) but several noted that it did not follow conventional expectations of newspaper typeface design.[32][88] One article that discussed its design was Optical Scale in Typefounding, written by Harry Carter and published in 1937, which discussed the differences between small and large-size typeface designs. He commented "The small sizes of Plantin embody what are supposed to be the requirements of a good small type [but] Times Roman, which most people find the easiest to read of small text-types, runs counter to some of them...[Morison] avoided blunt serifs and thickened hairlines because he found they wore down more noticeably than sharper-cut features."[43]

Times New Roman remains popular in publishing, helped by the extremely large range of characters available for international and mathematics printing.[70][89] For example, the American Psychological Association suggests using Times New Roman in papers written in its APA style.[90][91]

Despite Monotype's key role in creating Times New Roman, its rival Linotype rapidly began to offer the design; The Times used Linotype equipment for much of its production. Linotype referred to the design as Times or Times Roman. Monotype and Linotype have since merged, but slight differences have split the lineage of Times into two subtly different designs.

Although Times New Roman and Times are very similar, various differences developed between the versions marketed by Linotype and Monotype when the master fonts were transferred from metal to photo and digital media. For example, Linotype has slanted serifs on the capital S, while Monotype's are vertical, and Linotype has an extra serif on the number 5.[93] Most of these differences are invisible in body text at normal reading distances, or 10pts at 300 dpi. Subtle competition grew between the two foundries, as the proportions and details as well as the width metrics for their version of Times grew apart.[95] Differences between the two versions do occur in the lowercase z in the italic weight (Times Linotype has a curl also followed in the STIX revival, Times New Roman is straight),[30] and in the percent sign in all weights (Linotype and STIX have a stroke connecting up the left-hand zero with a slash, Times New Roman does not). Monotype's 'J' is non-descending, but Linotype's in the bold weight descends below the baseline. Linotype's metal version of Times had a shrunken 'f' due to a technical limitation of the Linotype system—it could not cast a kerning 'f', one that extended into the space of surrounding letters.[96] This restriction was removed in the digital version.[96]

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.[97][98] 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.[99] 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.[95]

Monotype released at least eight digital typefaces that carry the name Times New Roman.[100]

All modern versions of Microsoft Windows include Times New Roman.[101] Version 6.87 of this typeface is available for purchase under the name Times New Roman OS (see below).[102] The current version of Windows' Times New Roman includes small capitals, text figures, and italic swash capitals.[103] It omits automatic ligature insertion, but enabling the "discretionary ligatures" feature will provide ligatures for "fi" and "Th". More complex Unicode ligatures like ffi and ſt are also available.[105] A previous version of Times New Roman was also distributed as part of Microsoft's Core Fonts for the Web package.[106]

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.[107] Times New Roman with support for Arabic was first published in the Arabic version of Windows 3.1x.[107]

Also known as Times New Roman World, this is originally based on the version of Times New Roman bundled with Windows Vista.[108] It includes fonts in WGL character sets, Hebrew and Arabic characters. Similar to Helvetica World, Arabic in italic fonts are in roman positions.

Monotype further sells a wider range of styles and optical sizes in order to meet the needs of newspapers and books which print at a range of text sizes.[22]

The Windows version of Times New Roman does not automatically provide ligatures, but provides "fi" and "Th" when discretionary ligatures are enabled. Times provides "fi" as standard ligature, but not "Th".

This is the digitalisation of Linotype's Times (see above). It is pre-installed on macOS but not on iOS,[112] and is also widely available for purchase. Times provides standard ligature for "fi", but it does not provide any ligature for "Th".

Like Monotype, Linotype released additional versions of Times for different text sizes. These include:

The Times newspaper has commissioned various successors to Times New Roman:

In 1994 the printing historian Mike Parker published claims that the design of Times New Roman's roman or regular style was based on a 1904 design of William Starling Burgess.[130] This theory remains controversial.[28] Parker and his friend Gerald Giampa, a Canadian printer who had bought up the defunct American branch of Lanston Monotype, claimed that, in 1904, Burgess created a type design for company documents at his shipyard in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and hired Lanston Monotype to issue it.[130] However, Burgess abandoned the idea and Monotype shelved the sketches, ultimately reusing them as a basis for Times New Roman. Giampa claimed that he stumbled upon original material in 1987, after he had purchased Lanston Monotype, and that some of the papers that had been his evidence had been lost in a flood at his house, while Parker claimed that an additional source was material in a section of the Smithsonian now closed due to asbestos contamination.[130][131] Giampa asked Parker to complete the type from the limited number of surviving letters, which was issued in June 2009 by Font Bureau under the name of 'Starling'.[28]

Reception to the claims was sceptical, with dismissal from Morison's biographer Nicolas Barker and Luc Devroye among others; Barker suggested that the material had been fabricated in order to aid Giampa in embarrassing Monotype's British branch, while Devroye and Thomas Phinney of FontLab suggested that the claim had begun as a prank.[131][132][133][134] In 2010, writer Mark Owens described Parker's article in retrospect as "the scantest of evidence" and a "fog of irrelevant details".[135][j] Monotype executive Dan Rhatigan described the theory as implausible in 2011: "I'll admit that I tend to side with the more fully documented (both in general, and in agreement with what little I can find within Monotype to support it) notion that Times New Roman was based on Plantin...I won't rule out the possibility that Starling Burgess drew up the concept first, but Occam's razor makes me doubt it."[78]

The Times Online web site credits the design to "Stanley Morrison, Victor Lardent and perhaps Starling Burgess".[138]

Times Modern Swash, an exaggerated and unauthorised display adaptation of Times from the phototypesetting period

In the phototypesetting and digital typesetting periods many font designs have been published inspired by Times New Roman. Although the digital data of Monotype and Linotype releases of Times New Roman are copyrighted, and the name Times is trademarked,[139] the design is in many countries not copyrightable, notably in the United States, allowing alternative interpretations if they do not reuse digital data.[140][141]

Press Roman, a version of Times New Roman typed on a premium IBM typewriter
Comparison between Times New Roman and Liberation Serif, showing its much squarer design

There are some free software fonts used as alternatives, including metric-compatible designs used for font substitution.[151][152][153][154]

A standard Times New Roman digitisation compared to the STIX Two project, an open-source typeface for mathematics based on Times's smaller metal point sizes. STIX Two has a higher x-height and a reduction in fine detail.