I have a confession. . . my guilty pleasure. I love Times New Roman.
Don’t hate me, though, please. I have reasons. Good reasons. Really.
When reading books or other long-form material, those wonderful serifs mean I don’t have to work as hard identifying words. These unconscious clues let the text go down as smoothly as yogurt (filling and full of protein).
Many other delightful, elegant, and functional serif faces are available like Bembo, Bodoni, Garamond, and Georgia. But Times New Roman stays out of my way. I don’t see it. I only see the text. I’m not distracted because it is so completely ordinary and therefore invisible.
For headlines and huge signs in public places—yes, by all means, give me Helvetica or Univers or Futura. These san serif faces are wonderful, authoritative and to the point. They get me where I want to go whether it is the exit, the entrance, or (most importantly) the men’s room.
When I first started in publishing almost fifty years ago, I knew almost nothing about typefaces until our designers started tutoring me in their nuances, their histories, their dos and don’ts.
Today, of course, we all think we are graphic designers. Since every word processing program comes complete with multiple typefaces (like Arial) and multiple fonts (like Arial Black, Arial Narrow, Arial Rounded and MT Bold). And if such a font isn’t included, we can just highlight and click bold or italic to meet our needs.
Having dozens or hundreds of options to choose from was just too much temptation for many. As an editor I often received manuscripts combining a riot of faces and fonts. What authors thought of as fancy or creative was plain distracting and ugly. Our friends at Apple and Microsoft had unleashed the untamed graphic designer in all of us.
Eventually folks caught on that simple was better. Less was more. Pick one typeface and go.
Not long thereafter I began receiving digital submissions, on a floppy disk (which came on the market about the same time as steam engines) or as an attached file. I liked that much better. Why? Because, you see, once I pulled up the manuscript on screen, no matter how carefully it had been laid out by the author, I could change it all to Times New Roman.
photo credit: Pixabay-PublicDomainPictures