Common fonts used for newspaper design

I recently had the opportunity to take the lead on a redesign the Woolwich Observer. Knowing how many details would need ironing out, simply getting started seemed overwhelming.

First thing was first … I got myself a latte.

Coffee in hand, I began to obliterate a helpless piece of paper with disjointed notes and sketches outlining the many tasks that lay ahead. Selecting headline and body fonts was at the top of my to-do list. Sounds fun! Right?

After an hour of scanning through countless typefaces, my latte was gone, along with my enthusiasm for the redesign and my will to live. I decided to try a different approach.

I scoured the web to find out what other publications were doing. Here are some of my favourite fonts that are commonly used in newspaper design. (Click on the font title for a preview)

Common Headline Fonts


SANS SERIF

SERIF

Common Body Fonts


Let me know what you think. What does your paper use?

Category: Typography

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61 comments

  1. Hi, I am from Sri Lanka, Here we use Nimrod as our body copy font for English publications.
    Headline fonts vary with different titles.
    For instance Sunday Times –
    Feature Headlines: Franklin Gothic Condensed
    News Headlines: ITC Charter
    Daily Mirror –
    Feature Headlines: Myriad Condensed
    News Headlines: Centennial Bold

  2. An interesting roundup Matt! Thanks. At our paper, we use the Rockwell family for weekday headlines and the Helvetica and Utopia family for headlines. The body is utopia.

    I have to admit, I still find Utopia elegant for Sunday feature headlines. What do the rest here like?

  3. I’m a college student in Madison, WI. Our colleges newspaper uses:

    Body Copy: Times New Roman
    Serif headline: Times New Roman MT
    Sans headline: Arial MT

    Things such bylines, captions, credits and all that are in variations of Arial. Kind of trashy, but I like to think we look okay. =)

  4. As an experienced writer, I’ve found that Times New Roman is an excellent resource. If you research newspapers in Bungsmelis, you will find a fabulous use of various writing tools. It’s a shame that their literacy rate is but 14%. Any rookies looking for writing tips and tricks, contact me on twitter. @FillmyDill Bung!

  5. Does anyone know what the Headline font for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is? I really like it’s blending of round and Sharp and the quirks of the terminals.

  6. It’s entirely possible, Gabriel, it’s custom. But on the off-chance you have an iPhone, you can download an app called “What the Font”. It lets you scan a picture and the app will find the font online for you. 🙂

  7. @Gabriel

    The headline font for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is called Warnock:
    http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/adobe/warnock/

    If you ever want to know what font a newspaper uses, just download a front page pdf from newseum.org and open it up in Acrobat, then go to File >> Properties, and select the “font” tab and it will list all of the font titles used in the document.

  8. @William
    That sounds amazing, unfortunately I decided to get an Android phone, which I’ve found to be a bit of a mistake. But, I’ll look for a similar app for it.

    @Matt
    Good to know there is a surefire way to identify any font used in any PDF. Thanks a ton!

  9. Hi, were using Impact Bold for our headlines and Times new Roman for the body .. i’m from The Daily Record, from the Philippines

  10. Hi, I am the editor in chief of The Quill of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University Grade School (the school just turned 100 years old). (Yup, yours truly is a typophile and nationally-recognized student journalist from 6th grade, and I mean not to brag because I don’t even know how I did it.) We teamed up with our psychological department and we have studied which typefaces would represent modernity and formality while being comfortable to read in a small amount of soace and small point size. We settled for Vegur for headlines, Times New Roman with modified spacing for body text and Segoe for everything else. We chose Times New Roman because it is comfortable and can fit a lot of text into a small box, though it is indeed boring, however in the next issue we are planning to replace it with Lido Std since it is cleaner with better spacing management and an overall better feel, though I am still pondering about the choice due to the small width of the strokes. Oh well…

  11. Oh yeah, and the college paper uses Goudy but I decided not to go with uniformity since we have spacing issues due to content overload and Goudy’s spacing and width just didn’t help much, although it is indeed comfortable and beautiful.

  12. @Joshua hahaah! I’m from Davao del Sur. 😀

    Well, after I looked at some redesigns (most notably that of Time Magazine, el Economista, and of USA Today), we finally settled with Franklin Gothic (because it looks good) and PT Serif (because we’re frickin Russian).

    I did some templates in QuarkXPress, and when my moderator looked at them, she said that there is a “mandated layout from the DepEd.” And I was like “Really?” And all other writers agreed with her. I hate her.

    Okay, okay, I should blog this.

  13. @Paolo So you are from Davao del Sur and yet you are frickin’ Russian.

    I don’t really get it.

    Anyway, about the mandated layout from the DepEd, it’s not you teacher’s fault. I mean, it’s part of the rules of the DSPC/RSPC/NSPC and you have to follow a basic mandated layout, although you can customize the details in each page but not the order of pages.

    We had a redesign this year and the fonts above were replacing our usual Cambria (headlines) and Calibri (body) because it made the headlines look old-school and then the body got hard to read because it was one of the world’s most compact fonts at point size 10. I was glad I did it because reading last year’s issue classmates reported headaches and I myself wanted to put the paper down due to eye strain. Anyway, the new Quill has attracted a lot of readers, partly due to this redesign and partly due to our advertising on the bulleting board and the TV set.

  14. @Joshua “although you can customize the details in each page but not the order of pages.”

    So it should have been “mandated page arrangement”?

    Anyway, it’s good that redesigned because Calibri, although made by one of my favorite type designers Luc(as) de Groot and is suitable for both display and text, is just shitty for a reputable paper like The Quill.

    I’m just saying that PT Serif is for Russians because 1.) It is part of the Free Type Project of the Russian Federation, and 2.) It has Cyrillic (!).

    BTW I’m doubting again. Just after watching Tagesschau I’m starting to think of implementic TheSans and TheAntiqua. Or just TheAntiqua. Or maybe Cheltenham and Franklin Gothic. I don’t know.

  15. Hello. I am the editor in chief of The Pioneer. We also redesigned our paper from a half globe-logo to a half circle. Then, we used a modified version of Futura in our headlines and Segoe UI in everything. We use different weights of Futura in infographics.

  16. We received complaints about that Segoe font and now we’re using Charter in our headlines (some) and our body copy font. We still use Futura, though.

  17. Because we started publishing ins chool, our fonts became Nimrod for body copy and Miller for serif headlines then different weights of Futura.

  18. Hie… thanx a lot for this amazing article. we have used the Rockwell and Nimrod family of fonts but i find Frankiln Gothic as a clean and smart font that prints well. so i will for that in our next project

  19. We use Helvetica and New Century Schoolbook for our text. Franklin and ITC Franklin for headings. Myriad Pro for page categories. And in adverts that I make, I am partial to Avant Garde for easy reading and relaxed style. We are also using a lot of Lobster for our house ads.

  20. Thanks for this platform.
    I use a family of Humanst font for my paper’s headlines and size and type usually varies with how prominent the article is supposed to be.
    For body text i use Times New Roman

  21. You should always use serif fonts and those that the public are use to. Always use black text on white background. Do not capitalize all the letters in as headline. Don’t put a period at the end of a headline. Why? It causes a reader to stop reading

    By using the above you can greatly increase readership.

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Article by: Matt French

Assistant art director for The Globe and Mail. Matthew is an award-winning editorial designer based in Toronto, Canada.