Times New Roman is a font that is familiar to most people and has a rich and varied history. Most people have used Times New Room, also affectionately abbreviated TNR, at one time or another. For many, it is a default font in their word processing or email program.

College professors and publications often require submissions to be in Times New Roman. One reason for this is that the font is on almost every computer, making it extremely compatible across systems.

Origin

Times New Roman came to be because The Times (the British version) asked for the serif typeface to be created for them for use in their publications. The font was designed by Stanley Morison with the help of artist Victor Lardent, and it was officially put into print in 1932.

Morison was already quite well known in British typography circles when he was commissioned to create Times New Roman. Some other typefaces he is known for include Gill Sans, Perpetua, Bembo, Baskerville and Bell — with some of those being revamps of older typefaces.

Before changing to TNR, The Times used Didone, which was seen as dated since it had been created in the 1800s. Didone was also not as bold or as heavy as TNR. Morison is said to have based the design off of the typeface Plantin, but then revised it to utilize the space as efficiently as possible. Remember that it was being designed for newsprint, which tends to see space as premium real estate.

The design was so well received that it was later offered for commercial sale to other publishers. The Times used the font for the next 40 years.

Mechanics of Times New Roman

Because it was specifically created to be used in a newspaper, Times New Roman is naturally narrower than many other fonts used in body text. Even the bold style of TNR is fairly narrow for bold. This allows newspapers to fit in more text per line and save space for more advertising, or income.

Times New Roman has tall lower-case letters. It is seen as an older style serif font and has often been compared to the older typefaces, such as Baskerville, because it has a variety of both thick and thin strokes, creating some contrast and definition.

Because it is a serif typeface, you will find serifs in some of the letters in TNR, such as “H,” “X,” and “I.”

What Does the Font Imply?

The font is familiar and versatile, so it creates a comfortable feel for most people. One study places it as the most trustworthy font — however, that same study had Comic Sans in second place, so take the results as you will, depending upon your views of Comic Sans.

Most people will instinctively recognize the font, even if they aren’t aware specifically that it is Times New Roman. They’ve likely seen this font in newspapers, magazines, books and online for years. It is like putting on an old, warm winter coat on a crisp day. It is comforting, somehow.

Even though some critics will say that TNR is overused and you should try to find a different font, Times New Roman is still widely accepted in many circles. If the font works well for what you are designing, why throw it out just because it is common?

Where It’s Commonly Found/Used

As mentioned before, Times New Roman is often found in publication such as magazines, newspapers and books. It is quite popular in academia, with many professors requiring students to submit papers in TNR 12-point font. There is a reason for this. It is a standard size, and students can’t simply use a wider or bolder font to pad a paper when there is a specific page count required.

This is a reason that some publications require that material is submitted in TNR 12-point font. At a glance, the editor knows whether the article or story will fit within the space they have allotted for the piece. The writer can’t overwrite or underwrite, or it will be immediately apparent.

The font was used in the Encyclopedia Britannica as well — which makes sense since the font has been so widely used in printed books.

What Should It Be Used As

Times New Roman works across just about any type of industry. It is a bit plain, but that is why it works so well for business papers, reports and on signage. It’s easy to read and translates well both in print and on-screen. It can be a bit faded looking on screen as it is naturally a narrower and less weighted font. However, that can be fixed by increasing the font size or bolding.

Today, there are many additional versions of the typeface, including extra bold, condensed, Seven and Times New Roman World. There are also specifically designed versions, or Linotype variants, that are used for very specific purposes. For example, Times Ten was created for small text that is under 12 points or so. This version is just a touch wider to make it better to view on-screen.

 

The typeface you choose can impact everything from conversions to the overall branding of your company. Times New Roman offers a familiar and trustworthy look that can work well for almost any industry. Although there are certainly many other alternatives out there, it is doubtful that any are as well known or respected as Times New Roman.

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