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  #1  
Old 10-26-2004, 09:20 AM
KidCharlemagne KidCharlemagne is offline
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Newspaper headline font size and style.

Does a newspaper like the NYT have font sizes for specific "categories of importance?" They must have some sort of standard. Do they keep the largest font in reserve for an asteroid hitting the earth or similar catastrophe? What have been the largest fonts in the NYT history? WTC? Kennedy?
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  #2  
Old 10-26-2004, 09:24 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KidCharlemagne
Does a newspaper like the NYT have font sizes for specific "categories of importance?" They must have some sort of standard. Do they keep the largest font in reserve for an asteroid hitting the earth or similar catastrophe?
These days, all this front page typography is a breeze -- software handles it all. No metal type need be kept in reserve for special events.

However, I am curious as to whether or not your OP was true 50 years ago.
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Old 10-26-2004, 09:28 AM
KidCharlemagne KidCharlemagne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond
These days, all this front page typography is a breeze -- software handles it all. No metal type need be kept in reserve for special events.

However, I am curious as to whether or not your OP was true 50 years ago.
What I meant by "reserve" was that if they had a maximum font size that they were willing to use, have they used it, or do they keep one in the "arsenal."
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  #4  
Old 10-26-2004, 09:50 AM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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I believe the largest headlines in the New York Times were for the moon landing and the resignation of President Nixon. Remember that the headline can only be really big if it's short, so other significant events, like the WTC attack, got big headlines but in a smaller font.
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  #5  
Old 10-26-2004, 10:03 AM
MsRobyn MsRobyn is offline
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Actually, if you look at this site, you'll get a good idea of headlines on Sept. 12. The New York Times featured a very large headline with a smaller and longer subhead.

That said, there are a number of ways a newspaper headline can reflect a serious event. The one the Times chose for Sept. 12 was the large headline and smaller and longer subhead. Others used a large headline only; others chose a smaller and longer headline.

IIRC from my courses, it's a judgment call as to which fonts and sizes to use. Obviously a major event like 9/11 or the moon landing or Nixon's resignation is going to have a larger headline featured more prominently than, say, the death of a President. Headlines are chosen for visual impact more than anything else; there is probably no set standard. (Don't forget; I generally don't do print journalism, although broadcast journalism does have the same general concept in terms of when to interrupt programming and how to cover events.)

Robin
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  #6  
Old 10-26-2004, 10:32 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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There are no hard-and-fast rules here. Most general circulation newspapers have general guidelines about the point size of headlines. Most of them are willing to make exceptions as well. One thing you have to keep in mind that the larger the point size the shorter the headline. Most newspapers set a range of sizes for various levels of importance on all the pages.
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  #7  
Old 10-26-2004, 12:51 PM
Cliffy Cliffy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn
Remember that the headline can only be really big if it's short
The Onion, America's Finest News Source, had a joke about this. One of the regular features is the front page of an issue of The Onion from the "past." One of the pages (one assumes the date was Dec. 8, 1941) had this headline:

WA-
R!


--Cliffy
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  #8  
Old 10-26-2004, 01:26 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffy
The Onion, America's Finest News Source, had a joke about this. One of the regular features is the front page of an issue of The Onion from the "past." One of the pages (one assumes the date was Dec. 8, 1941) had this headline:

WA-
R!


--Cliffy
Actually, IIRC, the headline was WA- with the jump "Headline continued on page 3," or something to that effect.
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  #9  
Old 10-26-2004, 01:28 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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In fact, here it is.

(Note the slogan in the upper lefthand corner).
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  #10  
Old 10-26-2004, 02:38 PM
spingears spingears is offline
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AFAIK there were never any metal fonts used for headlines. These were carved from hard maple or similar wood for dimensional stability and light weight compared to type metal.
You should be able to find font sizes information with a web search for history of printing, modern pritnting, newpaper printing, etc. etc.
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  #11  
Old 10-26-2004, 04:03 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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I believe the largest settable metal fonts were 72 pt (one inch) high. So that was the defacto maximum size for ordinary headlines.

Anything larger than that and the typesetters had to set the type by hand, filling two or three trays deep with a "display" font (that they probably borrowed from the advertising pages)

However, the tabloids (and I'm not using that term in a negative sense) have always been notrorious for smacking 3-inch type on the front page, to attract the attention of the worker coming home after a hard day at the mill. So any "standard" was based on how much the publisher wanted to attract attention to that day's edition.
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  #12  
Old 10-26-2004, 04:04 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spingears
AFAIK there were never any metal fonts used for headlines. These were carved from hard maple or similar wood for dimensional stability and light weight compared to type metal.
You should be able to find font sizes information with a web search for history of printing, modern pritnting, newpaper printing, etc. etc.
In fact, as late as 1994, the newspaper I worked for still referred to really huge point sizes as "wood," even though it was all computerized.
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  #13  
Old 10-26-2004, 04:04 PM
Chairman Pow Chairman Pow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell
In fact, here it is.

(Note the slogan in the upper lefthand corner).
I wonder if that's Helvetica. If so, there's another joke in there since Helvetica wasn't created until the '50s, IIRC.
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  #14  
Old 10-26-2004, 04:50 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chairman Pow
I wonder if that's Helvetica. If so, there's another joke in there since Helvetica wasn't created until the '50s, IIRC.
No, looks like Franklin Gothic condendensed to me, a pretty standard newspaper headline font. The rightmost stroke on the "W" and the leftmost one in "A" in Helvetica aren't exactly parallel.
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  #15  
Old 10-26-2004, 05:23 PM
Garfield226 Garfield226 is offline
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I did layout for the Indiana Daily Student, the student newspaper of Indiana University. We had a standard range of point sizes we were allowed to use for headlines (though I'm sure there have been exceptions). We were allowed two different fonts for headlines (outside of feature stories...), serif for regular headlines, sans- for more important things.

I doubt there are any pre-defined "categories" (if the Vice President dies, use point size X, if mayor is arrested use point size Y). A lot depends on the exact wording and spacing of the headline and the layout of the page. Some depends on other front-page-worthy events of the day. It's really a pretty flexible business.

(I'm sure that there are some papers which have a more formulaic design, but I doubt the majority are that way)

Just for comparison purposes, here's our page from 9/12/01: PDF.
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  #16  
Old 10-26-2004, 06:01 PM
Jplacer Jplacer is offline
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I am a page desiger for a newspaper with a circ. of around 60,000. I have already written about 12 headlines today.

At this paper, there are no rules concerning headline size. It is all common sense.

There are some design rules that we follow. It's never good to have a big headline on a short story. There is an expression, "The roof should never be bigger than the house." Also, the sizes of the headlines should decline the lower on the page the story is.

I have attended conferences on how people read the newspaper and it was very interesting. It is quite possible to put a story on a page and no one will read it. Their eyes will skip right over it.
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  #17  
Old 10-26-2004, 06:14 PM
Kamino Neko Kamino Neko is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray
In fact, as late as 1994, the newspaper I worked for still referred to really huge point sizes as "wood," even though it was all computerized.
OK, anyone else suddenly have an image of the editor telling the typsetter to 'Give me wood!'?

Anyone?
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  #18  
Old 10-26-2004, 06:46 PM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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I don't think it's on their website (copyright probably prevents it), but the Guardian in Britain on 13th Sept 2001 had a double-page spread showing many dozens of different front pages, from around the world, from the previous day. Now if any time was the time to use big fonts, that was it. (And IIRC the Guardian's own front page on the 12th was a double-sized portrait-oriented one, across the front and back pages at once.)
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  #19  
Old 10-27-2004, 01:41 AM
moriah moriah is offline
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The NYT recently revamped their mishmash of fonts to one font family as per...

Design Observer

The Gothamist

and Slate.

IMO, I was vaguely disturbed by the Times's stew of fonts (designer's, rule: never more than two fonts on a page (OK, three's the absolute limit)). I'm for new font family.

Oh, if you read the Design Observer's article and you don't know what the vague reference is to the one, obvious font that didn't change, then
SPOILER:
The old-english-ish (sorry, don't know the official name of the font) title of the newspaper, The New York Times.


Peace.
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  #20  
Old 10-27-2004, 01:53 AM
TV time TV time is offline
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When I started in the newspaper business we named the different sizes.

Actually the different sizes had names given to them by old pressmen of days gone by. Some were discriptive, some were downright obscene and some were just silly. The one I remember was the size above 72 point (I can't evern remember the size now). It was called "Second Coming" and were were told, "Anything less than the second coming of Christ, stay below this size!"

TV
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  #21  
Old 10-27-2004, 02:40 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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moriah, the nameplates of the New York Times and Los Angeles Times are in a style called =blackletter]blackletter, of which there are scores of typefaces. Goudy Text is a typeface in the blackletter style that closely resembles those two nameplates, although in both cases they were probably custom made.
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  #22  
Old 10-27-2004, 08:41 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moriah
The old-english-ish (sorry, don't know the official name of the font) title of the newspaper, The New York Times
Such typefaces are variously called "text," "black letter," "Old English," or "Gothic." (The last usage being confusing because in professional typography, "gothic" means "sans-serif.")
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  #23  
Old 10-27-2004, 10:16 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray
Such typefaces are variously called "text," "black letter," "Old English," or "Gothic." (The last usage being confusing because in professional typography, "gothic" means "sans-serif.")
To be more specific, a Gothic typeface is a monoweighted sans serif. Monoweighted means the strokes all have the same thickness.
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